MAN concerned about threats against editor

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KATHMANDU/July 18: Media Action Nepal (MAN)’s serious attention has been drawn to the actions of Bottlers Nepal Limited, the bottling plant of the multinational soft-drink company CocaCola in Nepal, against Gajendra Budhathoki, the Editor-in-Chief of Lumbini Sanchaar.

Budhathoki has been continuously following up on the issue of alleged tax evasion by Bottlers Nepal during the transfer of its ownership for which the company is also being investigated by the Department of Revenue Investigation.

Talking to Media Rights Monitoring Desk of MAN on June 18, Budhathoki informed that he was approached by the company numerous times asking him to halt the publication of his stories. “They tried to entice me with promises of advertisements for my news outlet. But I did not back down after which they became offensive,” he said.

According to Budhathoki, people representing Bottlers Nepal have called him via unknown numbers, claiming to know where he lives and threatening his life. They also used derogatory language towards him as a person with disability.

Issuing such threats against a journalist for reporting on an issue is a serious violation of press freedom and threatening the life and safety of a person also goes against the prevailing laws of Nepal,” said MAN Chairperson Laxman Datt Pant. We condemn this action and urge the authorities to conduct an investigation and bring the perpetrators to justice, he added.

MAN is also alarmed by the meeting the management of Bottlers Nepal held with members of its trade union where, according to the prepared minute, they have specifically mentioned Budhathoki and have directed the trade unions to “look into” him.

If the company had any grievances with the news reports in question, it could have approached the Press Council and adopted legitimate means to present their dissatisfaction. But instead, it chose other means.

“Issuing such threats against a journalist for reporting on an issue is a serious violation of press freedom and threatening the life and safety of a person also goes against the prevailing laws of Nepal,” said MAN Chairperson Laxman Datt Pant. We condemn this action and urge the authorities to conduct an investigation and bring the perpetrators to justice, he added.