Nepal | September 26, 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:

Sindhupalchowk, a crisis-hit region

DHULIKHEL, SEPTEMBER 24 Battered by a series of natural disasters in the past three months that caused huge loss to life and property, Sindhupalchowk has been declared a crisis-hit region. The government announced this today. Alongside Sindhupalchowk, Baglung is also declared a crisis-hit regi Read More...

One dead, six hurt as landslide sweeps bus in Daunne

KAWASOTI:  A person died while six others sustained injures after the passenger bus they were travelling on was swept by a landslide at Daunne in Nawalpur on Thursday night. The deceased has been identified as Harish Chandra KC of Aathbiskot Rural Municipality-10 in Rukum West, informed Deputy Read More...

NZ govt gives all clear for Pakistan, West Indies to tour

WELLINGTON: New Zealand's government has given the go ahead for the Pakistan and West Indies teams to tour the country later this year and in early 2021, New Zealand Cricket (NZC) said on Friday. New Zealand has been one of the world's most successful nations at containing the new coronavirus Read More...

Apple's smaller rivals unite to fight iPhone app store rules

WASHINGTON: Spotify and the makers of Fortnite and Tinder are taking on Apple and Google as part of a newly formed coalition calling for "fair treatment" in the way the tech giants run their app stores. The Coalition for App Fairness, a Washington-based nonprofit, launched Thursday and will advoc Read More...

Body of 12yo girl found in a temple in Bajhang; rape-murder suspected

BAJURA: The body of a 12-year-old girl was found in a temple in Masta Rural Municipality-2 of Bajhang district on Thursday night. The deceased was a resident of Khikala village. Police suspected that the girl may have been murdered after the culprit/s raped her as the clothes in the lower par Read More...

Abiding by COVID-19 curbs, Australian school kids protest in opposition to gas

SYDNEY: Thousands of Australian students on Friday protested to demand investment in renewable-energy projects, though COVID-19 restrictions confined the events to small gatherings and online activism. About 500 protests were held across Australia, with other demonstrations expected worldwide o Read More...

India Cricket, Cricket, Anil Kumble, India coach

Punjab spinner Bishnoi lauds Kumble influence

Kings XI Punjab spinner Ravi Bishnoi hailed the influence of head coach Anil Kumble after he and fellow wristspinner Murugan Ashwin picked up three wickets each to beat Royal Challengers Bangalore by 97 runs in the Indian Premier League on Thursday. The Challengers boast batsmen of the calibr Read More...

One-Day International Series, India, Australia, Kane Richardson

Australia's Afghanistan test, one-day series v New Zealand postponed

MELBOURNE:  Australia's one-off test against Afghanistan and one-day series against New Zealand have been postponed to the 2021-22 season due to scheduling "complexity" during the COVID-19 pandemic, Cricket Australia (CA) said on Friday. Australia were to play their first home test against A Read More...