Nepal | January 18, 2021

NHRC asks govt to remove ambiguity from penal code

FNJ president says fear of prosecution driving journalists to self-censorship

Himalayan News Service
Share Now:

Kathmandu, November 16

Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission Anup Raj Sharma today said the new penal code contained ambiguous words that could be used to punish journalists.

He said this at an interaction organised by the NHRC to dwell on issues related to the freedom of expression.

Sharma said either the vague words in the new penal code should  be removed or a new press law should be brought with a   saving clause to protect  journalists and the press and to govern their work and conduct.

Sharma gave the example of the word ‘obscenity’ which was used by the government of West Bengal in India to punish littérateurs. He feared that the same thing could happen in Nepal if restrictive clauses were not removed from the new penal code.

President of Federation of Nepali Journalists Govinda Acharya said a mechanism should be set up at the NHRC to ensure freedom of expression. He said there were many cases where journalists were arrested by the government for writing news stories.

“In the past when Minendra Rijal was the minister of information and communications, one press release was enough to prevent the government from withholding Cabinet decisions, but this government does not pay heed to our concerns,” Acharya said.  He added that the NHRC should play a role in protecting the interests of the press. Stating that freedom of expression was the most important right after the right to life, Acharya said  big media houses were wary of new restrictive laws and had issued letters to their district correspondents telling them to remove controversial content from their reports, leading to self-censorship.

This means journalists may not report corruption fearing prosecution under the right to privacy law, he added.

Acharya said local governments had also passed restrictive laws against the press and journalists. “Regulating the press is not the government’s job. There are certain mechanisms and codes for regulating journalists’ conduct which should be invoked,” he argued.

Executive Director of Freedom Forum Taranath Dahal said the new penal code and right to privacy law wrongly criminalised defamation and violation of right to privacy.

He said the issues related to journalistic code of conduct should not be mixed with freedom of expression or right to information. Such things happened only in a dictatorial system, he added. He said international instruments and declarations adequately offered safeguards against violation of freedom of expression and guaranteed right to information, but the Nepal government had not fully adhered to those provisions. The government’s decision to form a committee to recommend amendments to the new penal code was an eye-wash, he alleged.

NHRC Chair Sharma distributed a draft of guidelines related to protection of freedom of expression among those present and said the NHRC would soon set up a mechanism to protect interests of the press.

 


A version of this article appears in print on November 17, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.


Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

319 Nepalis living abroad have succumbed to Covid-19 thus far: NRNA

KATHMANDU: Two more Nepalis living abroad died from coronavirus infection in the past week. According to Non-Resident Nepali Association (NRNA), one person passed away in London while the other one died in South Africa. According to the Health Committee under NRNA, with the latest fatalities, Read More...

In pics: A day in the lives of STIDH health-workers

KATHMANDU: Teku-based Sukraraaj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital (STIDH) which was established as centre for treating COVID-19 cases has been successfully providing quality care to the patients. Following the detection of the virus in country around ten months ago, the government had dec Read More...

PM has no right to dissolve House, SC told

KATHMANDU, JANUARY 17 Lawyers representing the petitioners that have challenged the dissolution of the House of Representatives today began pleading before the constitutional bench of the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher JB Rana. Advocate Bhimarjun Acharya said the prime m Read More...

EC consults parties regarding snap polls

KATHMANDU, JANUARY 17 The Election Commission today held consultation with 11 political parties on midterm polls announced for April 30 and May 10. EC Spokesperson Raj Kumar Shrestha said Chief Election Commissioner Dinesh Kumar Thapaliya informed representatives of political parties about its Read More...

Valley schools reopening after 10 months

KATHMANDU, JANUARY 17 Schools across all local bodies inside Kathmandu valley have started reopening. They had been closed for at least 10 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On March 24, the government imposed a blanket lockdown in a bid to subdue the spread of coronavirus, which hit the Read More...

Double for Stones as Man City crush Palace to go second

MANCHESTER: Manchester City steamed into second place in the Premier League with defender John Stones scoring an unlikely double in a 4-0 demolition of visiting Crystal Palace on Sunday. Central defender Stones, closing in on 100 Premier League appearances for City, headed his first league g Read More...

Information Technology

Smart diplomacy: Needs tech-driven approach

A calling need for tech-savviness in state diplomacy with a tech-managed system has assumed diplomatic importance to promote techno-economic cooperation and trade promotion. Technical knowledge about economic and trade connections with both the developed and emerging countries would substantially he Read More...

EDITORIAL: Unresolved issues

It would be in the best interest of both Nepal and India to resolve the boundary issue amicably Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali returned home on Saturday after wrapping up his three-day visit to India, where he took part in the sixth Foreign Minister-Level Joint Commission meeting. But he could no Read More...