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UNESCO chief speaks out against murder of Nepalese journalist

UNESCO chief speaks out against murder of Nepalese journalist

The head of the United Nations agency tasked with monitoring press freedom worldwide has condemned the murder of Nepalese journalist Birendra Shah, voicing grave concern about reports of a growing campaign of intimidation of media professionals.

“Freedom of expression is a basic human right and using force to silence journalists undermines the democratic rights of society as a whole,” Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said today, urging authorities in the South Asian nation to do all they can to bring the perpetrators of the killing to trial.

Mr. Shah, 34, was a correspondent for the Nepalese private radio station NepalFM, the Dristri Weekly and the television station Avenues TV. He was abducted from his home in Bara district on 5 October and killed on the same day, according to the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ). His death was only made public on 5 November when the Maoist Party of Nepal admitted having killed the journalist.

Mr. Matsuura expressed concern about increasingly frequent reports of attempts to intimidate reporters and editors. “Using physical violence or threats to keep reporters from doing their work is unacceptable and measures must be taken to stop these practices,” he stated.

Independent journalists and media companies have become the subject to increasing bullying by the Maoist Party of Nepal, according to Nepalese and international media organizations.