Nepal | January 21, 2020

Lawmakers voice concern about Media Council Bill

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, May 28

The Federation of Nepali Journalists today held an interaction with lawmakers representing various political parties at the House of Representatives and National Assembly on Nepal Media Council Bill, recently registered in the upper house of the Parliament.

FNJ and media fraternity have taken a serious objection to the provisions in the bill which they said were intended to curtail press freedom. Upper house member and ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) parliamentary party leader Dinanath Sharma said the government had registered the bill at secretariat of the National Assembly but was yet to table it in the house.

Sharma informed that the bill was put on hold for the time being, for forging a common consensus through discussion, with lawmakers of main opposition Nepali Congress, Minister for Communications and Information Technology and Gokul Baskota and other stakeholders.

“No act, law and bill contrary to globally accepted democratic norms and values and the constitution will have passage through the National Assembly,” he said.

Lawmaker and NC whip in the House of Representatives Pushpa Bhushal said had created a chaos in the country. She asked the government to withdraw the bill as it was aimed to punish journalists for their work and gag the people’s voice. “The government in a democracy is supposed to comply with its norms and values,” Bushal said.

Member of the House of Representatives and leader of Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal Laxman Lal Karna said, “Curtailing the rights of journalists is as equal to taking away democratic rights from people.”

Stating that the constitution had articulated complete press freedom in its preamble, he said no laws should be enacted in contravention to the constitution. “As the bill has some anti-press provisions, there is no alternative than to correct them,” Karna suggested.

FNJ president Govinda Acharya reiterated that the umbrella organisation of journalists should stay firm on its stance.

“The bill is against the international norms and values of press freedom and right to freedom of expression. Hence, it should be withdrawn. FNJ is protesting against the provisions stipulated in the proposed law, not against it. If the government wants to get the bill passed, it should be amended as suggested by the umbrella body of journalists,” he said.

A version of this article appears in print on May 29, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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