Nepal | July 12, 2020

AHRC tells govt to withdraw Media Council Bill

Himalayan News Service
Share Now:

Kathmandu, May 31

The Asian Human Rights Commission today accused the government of repeatedly throttling the civil society, media and human rights organisations.

A press statement released by the Hong Kong-based AHRC said even the National Human Rights Commission had now come under its ambit. “The incumbent government led by the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) does not like civil society questioning its business. In an attempt to silence critical voices, the government is trying to control civic space, and curtail freedom of speech in the country,” the release stated.

According to the AHRC, the government has registered an amendment to the NHRC Act, 2012. The proposed bill contravenes the provisions relating to the NHRC as enshrined in the Constitution of Nepal, and in the United Nations’ basic principles for National Human Rights Institutions. The Constitution of Nepal vests primary responsibility in the NHRC to protect and promote human rights of Nepali people. The NHRC currently enjoys ‘A’ status worldwide, which it may lose if the government pushes through the proposed amendment, stated the release.

The amendment bill gives discretionary power to the attorney general to investigate and implement recommendations made by the NHRC (Section 17a), and allows the government’s interference in the financial autonomy of the NHRC. It also proposes cancellation of the NHRC’s provincial and contact offices. “This will limit the jurisdiction, autonomy and independence of the NHRC, turning it into a government puppet. Lack of provincial and contact offices will prevent victims of human rights violations and their families from timely reporting to the NHRC and in seeking assistance. In order to maintain credibility, impartiality, and autonomy of the NHRC, the government must revise the bill,” the AHRC warned.

Besides targeting the NHRC, the government has registered the Media Council Bill to control media. The proposed bill seeks to impose a fine of up to one million rupees on media and journalists, including editors, who tarnish the image of any individuals. Another bill on mass communication proposed the confiscation of media equipment, a fine up to Rs 10 million, and 15 years of imprisonment for mediapersons, who are found to have engaged in publication of contents ‘undermining national sovereignty and national integrity’. “This provision gives the government room to target persons at its discretion. Ultimately, the press, considered a fourth estate of the nation, will come under the scrutiny of the nation itself. The bill must be revised without any delay to ensure press freedom in the country,” it suggested.

The AHRC said it had serious objections to Nepal government’s attempt to bring in these bills without amendments. “They must be revised with due consultation in order to keep democratic space alive in Nepal,” it stated. The AHRC has also called for national and international groups to lobby the government to withdraw these bills. “When there are no critical voices in the country, the government can run the country under its monopoly, controlling the human rights, freedom of speech, and freedom of movement of common people,” the AHRC said.


A version of this article appears in print on June 01, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.


Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

Tarai districts at risk of floods after heavy rainfall in hilly region

RAUTAHAT: Tarai districts are at a high risk of floods as water level has risen alarmingly after incessant rainfall in hilly and Chure region in recent days. Locals residing on the banks of Bagmati and Lalbakiya rivers in Rautahat and Sarlahi districts have been living in terror of floods as Read More...

Putting the brakes on COVID-19: Safeguarding the health and rights of women and girls

KATHMANDU: The COVID-19 pandemic has sickened 16,649 people and left 35 dead in Nepal as of July 10. But the full toll of this catastrophe has been incalculably greater. The health system has been overwhelmed and the economy has been greatly impacted. Women and girls have been disproportionately af Read More...

NHRC chief draws flak for condemning Mohna Ansari

KATHMANDU, JULY 10 National Human Rights Commission Chairman Anup Raj Sharma has drawn flak for issuing a press release condemning NHRC member Mohna Ansari for criticising Samajwadi Party-Nepal’s decision to expel Sarita Giri from both the party and the House of Representatives. Sharma h Read More...

Commission on the investigation of Enforced Disappeared Persons

Conflict victims lament govt’s apathy in their joint submission

KATHMANDU, JULY 10 Various victim groups of Nepal have made a joint submission to the 37th Session of the Working Group on Universal Periodic Review of the United Nations Human Rights Council, drawing its attention to the Government of Nepal’s persistent failure to deliver truth, justice, repar Read More...

Gaindakot, Nawalparasi

East-West Highway obstructed as flood sweeps diversion in Nawalpur

KATHMANDU: The East-West Highway has been obstructed since a diversion was washed away by a flash flood at Gaindakot section in Nawalparasi (East) district. It has been learnt that the vehicular movement along the highway came to halt after the flooded rivulet in Thumsi swept away the culvert o Read More...

Nepal Communist Party (NCP) standing committee meet put off for a week

KATHMANDU, JULY 10 The ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) has postponed its Standing Committee meeting for a week. NCP Spokesperson Narayan Kaji Shrestha wrote on his Twitter handle that the party took the decision to postpone its Standing Committee meeting to enable the party’s rank and fil Read More...

‘Regulate particular content, media, not entire industry’

KATHMANDU, JULY 10 Freedom Forum, a civil society organisation, issued a press release condemning cable operators’ decision to halt broadcast of Indian news channels, except Doordarshan, over misleading and defamatory content about Nepal. Freedom Forum said service providers and media carrie Read More...

Jada and Will Smith reveal marriage trouble on Facebook show

LOS ANGELES: With their marriage under social-media scrutiny, Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith reaffirmed their commitment to each other as Pinkett Smith admitted to having a relationship with musician August Alsina when she and Smith were separated. In a one-on-one conversation Friday on Pinke Read More...