Freedom Forum concerned

Kathmandu, April 23

Freedom Forum has expressed concern about the arrest of former Secretary Bhim Upadhyay for allegedly posting negative comments on the government’s action and public policies through social media platforms.

The FF is a collective initiative of policy researchers, advocates, academicians and freedom of expression practitioners committed to democracy, human rights, press freedom and equitable development of society.

Issuing a press release the FF said, “It is worrying that the state is misusing its resources to silence FoE practitioners which should have instead been diverted to help the needy during this time.”

It added, “FF strongly expresses its dissatisfaction at the state for setting a bad precedent that is tyrannical in nature.”

The FF said FoE practitioners have been writing about the mismanagement of public bodies in relation to food distributions, delay in providing emergency services and battery inflicted upon the public to enforce the decisions.

“The government bodies have been claiming that this information tarnished public persona,” the press release states.

It further said that FoE practitioners such as Upadhyay have been charged under the Electronic Transaction Act 2006 and Criminal Code 2017 for allegedly committing indecent behaviour in internet platforms for their critical writing.

“It is alarming to witness the gross misuse of laws which were intended to prosecute criminal conduct in online space. Presently, it is being used to suppress news dissemination about the government’s inaction,” the FF said.

FF Chief Executive Tara Nath Dahal says, “This is an unfortunate incident, against the notion of free speech.”

A version of this article appears in e-paper on April 23, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.