A Nepali journalist Umakant Pande is in police custody for one and a half month in Dubai, UAE. Pande was arrested on February 15, 2022 for his social media post critical to the Embassy of Nepal in UAE.
Pande, originally from Arghakhanchi district of Nepal and now working and doing journalism in UAE for some years, was not only imprisoned but also handed over the punishment of imminent confiscation of properties, deportation and fine.
According to Pande’s friend in Nepal, Jivan Bhandari, and Pande’s family (which is in UAE itself) sources, he had made a social media post from Nepal about the problems regarding visit visas including anomalies inside the Nepal Embassy in UAE on January 7, 2022. Then, on February 22, the local administration at Abudhabi took him under control following the alleged complaint filed by one of the staffs at the Nepali Embassy, UAE at a local police.
Thereafter, on March 1 the UAE court sentenced three months imprisonment and penalty amount of AED 20,000 to journalist Pande. The court has also ordered the authority to deport journalist Pande and his family to Nepal after the completion of jail term. It is further learnt that Pande, bearing the passport number 06050350, is not allowed to use phone and make contact with family members and friends.
Freedom Forum came to know from the special source that the Nepali Embassy in UAE had role on his arrest and additional punishment to journalist Pande. The Embassy staffs sought the harsh punishment to journalist Pande just because of his social media post which questioned the bad service at Embassy.
Freedom Forum vehemently condemns the incident. Freedom Forum Executive Chief Taranath Dahal commented, “Instead of protecting the human rights of Nepalis abroad, Nepali Embassy’s alleged role to mete out severe torture to a Nepali journalist there is sheer violation of human rights and freedom of expression. Freedom of expression is a frontier-less issue, a universal right. The Nepal government, and the Foreign Ministry, must take initiative to release journalist Pande and ensure justice to him. Together, the Embassy staffs involved in such harassment must be censured and urged how they could defend human rights.”
In addition to this, Freedom Forum calls on the international and regional organizations working in the sectors of human rights, press freedom and journalists’ rights to pay heed to the situation and express solidarity to journalist Pande’s rights and justice.
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