March 12, 2010

Prime Minister
Madhav Kumar Nepal
Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers
Singh Durbar
Kathmandu, Nepal
P.O. Box: 23312

Ministry of Home Affairs
Singha Durbar
Republic of Nepal
Fax: +977 1 4211264

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,400 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to express our shock regarding the murder of publisher and media entrepreneur Arun Singhaniya.

According to our information, Arun Singhaniya, publisher of Janakpur Today and owner of a local radio station, was attacked by four unidentified individuals on March 1, 2010, at around 6:00 p.m. in Shiva Chowk Janakpur, Dhanusha District. The media entrepreneur was returning home after celebrating the Hindu festival of Holi when four men on motorcycles intercepted him and shot him at point blank range. He sustained three gunshot wounds and was pronounced dead on arrival at a local hospital. The motive for his killing is unknown.

Arun Singhaniya is the second journalist to be killed in Nepal this year, and many others have reportedly received death threats, leading to serious concerns that press freedom is sharply deteriorating in Nepal. Five journalists have been killed in the past three years in Nepal. They include journalist Birendra Shah, who was abducted and killed while investigating a report on illegal sandalwood smuggling. His body was found on November 8, 2007. No action has been taken to bring Shah’s killers to justice.

PEN American Center is seriously concerned that the murder of Arun Singhaniya is a result of a very troubling climate of impunity in Nepal, and urges authorities to take immediate action to ensure his killing, as well as all other crimes against journalists, is vigorously investigated and those responsible brought to justice. We also call on the authorities to take all necessary measures to protect journalists and media workers in Nepal in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Nepal is a signatory.

Thank you for your consideration of this urgent matter.

Hannah Pakula                            
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee               

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: Mr. Shankar P. Sharma
Ambassador of Nepal
Embassy of Nepal
2131 Leroy Place, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Fax: (202) 667 5534

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