• Tuesday, Jul 07, 2020
  • Last Update : 11:47 am

Nepal crime reform sparks press freedom concerns

  • Published at 07:11 pm August 18th, 2018
In this photograph taken on January 19, 2015, A street vendor sells Nepalese newspapers showing coverage of the country's constitution draft on the front pages in Kathmandu AFP

A new constitution passed in 2015 enshrines the right to press freedom and bans censorship of news, which was common under the monarchy

Nepal introduced a new criminal code on Friday that makes sharing confidential information a jailable offence, sparking concerns among journalists that the laws could be used to muzzle the press.

Media have warned that the Communist-led government, which has shown an increasing intolerance for dissent, could use the vaguely worded code to silence critics.

The new laws make publishing private information, recording audio or taking pictures without permission punishable by up to three years in jail and a fine.

Publishing content that damages a person's reputation directly or through satire is also subject to the same sentence.

"These general laws can be misused to silence journalists and discourage investigative reporting," Federation of Nepalese Journalists president Govinda Acharya told AFP.

Prominent political cartoonist Rajesh KC warned that the new laws mark a slide towards "authoritarianism."

"Our work is to point out mistakes and abuses of those in power, but these laws can force self-censorship," said KC, whose satirical cartoons appear regularly in top newspapers.

"This harms our democracy," he added.

The Kathmandu Post newspaper called for the government to reconsider the laws, which are worded in a way that leaves "much room for interpretations" and could be used to prosecute journalists, an editorial said.

Nepal's media industry has boomed since the monarchy was overthrown a decade ago following a brutal civil war, spawning dozens of newspapers and news channels.

A new constitution passed in 2015 enshrines the right to press freedom and bans censorship of news, which was common under the monarchy.

But the Himalayan nation is ranked just 106 out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

Journalists face intimidation and arrest, particularly if reporting on issues deemed by authorities to affect national unity.

blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail