FNJ urges speaker to pave way for amendment of media related bills

Kathmandu, February 24

Federation of Nepali Journalists — an umbrella body of Nepali journalists — today requested the Speaker of the House of Representatives Agni Prasad Sapkota to allow further amendments of a few sections of the provisions of Media Council Bill and complete amendment of the Information Technology Bill by holding vigorous with stakeholders.

A team from the FNJ drew the attention of newly-appointed speaker Sapkota and strongly recommended that he include the voices of stakeholders while drafting a law that concerns people’s freedom of expression.

A team comprising acting FNJ President Bipul Pokhrel and General Secretary Ramesh Bista urged the speaker stating that the Parliament should be a place for intensive discussion of any bill for the betterment of society and for ensuring democratic values.

The memorandum submitted by the FNJ reads, “We believe that the speaker will pay special attention to Media Council Bill, Information Technology Bill, as well as bring the issue of the voices of stakeholders together in the parliamentary process.”

FNJ President Pokhrel said, “We draw your attention to the need to play a positive and creative role while endorsing any bill and also to develop the culture of including more and more stakeholders to benefit the majority of people. Although the recent amendment on Media Council Bill had fulfilled certain demands, it still has not accepted the autonomy of the media council and has still tried to obstruct complete freedom of expression.”

Similarly, General Secretary Bista said the Parliament should be more interactive and progressive regarding issue of press and freedom of expression. “We want the Parliament to be the centre of faith of all democratic values.

This can be possible by allowing all the stakeholders to represent their ideas in any new rule,” he added.

Addressing FNJ representatives, Speaker Sapkota said, “We are positive about allowing more insights about any proposed bill which should reach the ground level in society.” He further promised that he would do his level best to ensure that the proposed bill would be amended as per the stakeholders’ wish.

The Informative Technology Bill has a provision for imposing fine up to one million rupees or a ten-year jail term or both on those found guilty of ‘continuous cyber bullying’ charges such as teasing, belittling, intimidating, insulting and scolding others through the use of electronic medium.

The bill also proposes severe penalty for offences against the state and computer hacking.