• Friday, Aug 14, 2020
  • Last Update : 08:51 am

HRW: Nepal media bills undermine freedom of speech

  • Published at 09:41 pm September 4th, 2019
Nepal
A general view shows the urban area of the Kathmandu Valley from Kirtipur on the outskirts of Kathmandu on August 23, 2019 AFP

The government - which is drafting and has tabled bills on media, IT and mass communications - has said the laws are necessary to improve media reporting and discourage disinformation

Nepal's proposed media and communication laws will have a "chilling effect" on its citizens' right to free speech, Human Rights Watch warned Wednesday as it called for the bills to be amended.

The government - which is drafting and has tabled bills on media, IT and mass communications - has said the laws are necessary to improve media reporting and discourage disinformation.

But journalists and right activists say they could be used to suppress freedom of expression, with the ruling party showing less and less tolerance for dissent since coming to power in 2017.

In a letter to Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli published online, HRW said the draft laws as well as previous amendments to the penal code criminalised speech in a way that was "extremely broad" and "unacceptably vague."

"These provisions carry extremely severe penalties, which will have a chilling effect on free speech," said HRW.

The 10-page letter included a detailed analysis by the rights body on how the amendments and bills "violate international standards on upholding the right to free speech and expression."

If passed in their current form, the laws would "undermine the freedoms that Nepalis fought so hard to achieve" HRW's South Asia director Meenakshi Ganguly said in a statement.

One proposed piece of legislation, the Media Council Bill, gives the government regulator the power to fine reporters and editors up to $8,600 for violating its code of conduct.

It was tabled in parliament only after an agreement was reached with Nepal's journalist federation to amend problematic clauses. 

There was no immediate response from the government to the HRW letter.

Several journalists, artists and regular citizens have been arrested for online postings or for expressing their political beliefs. 

In June, a comedian was detained after a director filed a case against his film review.

51
50
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