Supreme Court upholds conviction and sentence in Nepalese journalist rape case22 Dec, 2014
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) in welcoming the Supreme Court verdict on December 18 to imprison a perpetrator in the rape of a female journalist, but has criticized the slow trial process which left the victim waiting seven years for justice.
The Supreme Court sentenced Yadav Ghimire, a section officer of state-owned Nepal Telecom, to five years in prison and ordered him to pay a Rs. 150,000 (approximately US$ 1,500) fine to compensate the victim in its verdict on 2008 rape case.
Ghimire lured the 22-year-old female journalist of Syanja district, western Nepal to a hotel room in Pokhara in the pretext of giving her a better job and raped her on January 1, 2008. Although a district court found him guilty and sentenced him to jail for six years in 2009, the decision was reversed by an appellate court. Ghimire remained behind bars for less than a year before he was acquitted in 2010.
The journalist took the case to the Supreme Court. The FNJ’s legal desk supported the case through the Supreme Court.
The victim said at the end of the trial, “In these seven years, I had to quit my profession. I was threatened several times. I was forced to leave the country for almost 15 months. I went through mental trauma. However, I never gave the hope for justice.”
The FNJ, while thanking all organizations, lawyers and journalists involved, has expressed concern over the time taken to deliver justice and demanded for a fast-tracked hearing in incidents relating to the safety of journalists.
The FNJ said: “We also felt that the punishment and compensation is too low compared to the loss incurred by the journalist.”
IFJ Asia Pacific Acting Director, Jane Worthington, said: “The fact that the woman involved had to wait so long for justice in this case highlights the challenges faced not only by female journalists in getting justice, but for all women who face the horror of sexual assault and rape in Nepal. Meanwhile, the perpetrator has been out of jail and free to live his life for all this time. The small compensation offered will go no way to heal that suffering.”
The IFJ and the South Asia Media Solidarity Network, which represents journalist unions and press freedom groups in South Asia, have a strong “no tolerance” approach to sexual assault and harrassment and have campaigned on the safety of women journalists in the region.
“Media companies and the state have an obligation to ensure the safety of women journalists in the field and in the workplace where sexual harassment and assault is a major problem. This case should serve to highlight these issues and media employers should take swift and severe action against any assaults internally and report any criminal incidents to the authorities.”