UN urges better protection for media after attack on Nepali publishing house

22 December 2008The United Nations has condemned yesterday’s attack against staff at the Himal Media publishing house in Kathmandu as an assault on the freedom of expression, and urged authorities in Nepal to ensure a safe environment for media professionals to do their work. Staff from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal (OHCHR-Nepal) and investigators from the National Human Rights Commission have followed up on the incident, in which dozens of people entered the Himal Media office on Sunday looking for the author of a recently-published article. They then physically assaulted a number of individuals, including Publisher Kunda Dixit and Chief Executive Officer Ashutosh Tiwari, in what is the latest in a series of attacks against the media in the South Asian nation.“OHCHR-Nepal encourages the Nepal Police, which investigated Sunday’s incident, to complete its investigation as swiftly as possible so charges can be laid,” the office said in a news release. “It also urges State authorities to take all steps necessary to ensure that the media has a secure environment in which to do its work,” it added.Previously, on 20 October, several people reportedly raided the office of the local Terai Times newspaper in Janakpur, where they assaulted staff and damaged and stole equipment. That incident followed the publication of a news article suggesting that the Young CommunistLeague (YCL) was providing protection for prostitution. In another incident, a journalist from a daily newspaper in Nepalgunj informed OHCHR that he had been verbally abused and threatened on 21 October by a local government official ofBanke district, following publication of an article that alleged financial irregularities linked to a local construction project. read more

7 dead 5 critically injured in Cuban bus crash

Seven people are dead and five are in critical condition after a bus carrying tourists and local residents crashed in Cuba, according to The Associate Press.Cuban state media has reported the bus was carrying 18 Cubans, and 22 tourists from Canada, Holland, France, Mexico, and Great Britain.The victims names have not been released.The bus crashed Thursday afternoon on a road between the cities of Barcoa and Guantanamo. The driver told Radio Guantanamo that he lost control on the wet and winding road.Cuban highways are quite narrow, poorly lit and are not well maintained. Last year there were 750 deaths and nearly 8,000 injuries in the country.Thursday’s deadly crash was the fourth major bus accident in a month.