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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 78

Nepal's press freedom towards extinction: HRW

[b]Nepal's press freedom towards extinction: HRW[/b]By Bikash

Sangraula - in Kathmandu

[b] Kathmandu, 30 October, ([/b] New York based Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said that press freedom in Nepal is on the verge of extinction owing to new media ordinance imposed by King Gyanendra and the government's recent decision to close a popular radio station in Kathmandu.

"Press freedom in Nepal is moving from endangered to extinct," said Brad Adams, Asia director at HRW, according to a statement posted in HRW website on Oct. 28. "The new media ordinance takes unlawful censorship imposed since the King’s coup and enshrines it into law,” Adams added.

In the statement, HRW has urged the government of Nepal to immediately reverse its decision to close Kantipur FM and end censorship of the media. It has also called for the repeal of a "draconian new ordinance imposed by King Gyanendra on October 9, 2005, that places a blanket prohibition on any news-related items on the radio, as well as other harsh strictures against the media".

Government officials in Nepal, accompanied by armed policemen, raided Kantipur FM at midnight on Oct. 21, and seized its transmission equipment at gunpoint. The FM station filed an appeal at the Supreme Court seeking the return of the seized equipment on Oct 23. However, while the court order on the plea was still to come, the government gave a 24-hr ultimatum to the FM station on Oct. 26 ordering it to either abide by the ordinance or shut down completely. The Supreme Court gave a stay order to the government's decision on Oct. 27.

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