NHRC calls for debate on IT Bill

Kathmandu, January 1

The National Human Rights Commission today said the Information Technology Bill that the Parliamentary Development and Technology Committee had passed on Monday should be enacted into a law only after comprehensive discussion with stakeholders.

In a statement, the NHRC said the new law should ensure people enjoyed full freedom of expression and should not curtail the same.

Pointing out that its attention was drawn towards reports that the bill curtailed freedom of expression, the NHRC stated, “If freedom of expression is restricted on any ground, it amounts to human rights violation.”

NHRC said freedom of expression was recognised as a basic human right in international human rights laws. It said Article 19 of the Universal Human Rights Commission and Article 19 of the Civil and Political Rights Covenant guaranteed people’s right to express their opinion without any intervention.

The NHRC also reminded the government of Comment No 34 of the UN Human Rights Committee which states that since freedom of opinion and expression is imperative for overall development of individuals, such rights cannot be suspended even during emergency.

The NHRC also reminded the government of the Supreme Court’s verdict delivered on 19 April 2017, wherein the apex court ruled that there must be relevant correlations between the government’s action and the intended objectives of such action.

Meanwhile, the Nepali Congress Parliamentary Party also said in a separate statement today that the IT Bill violated the constitution as it curtailed the people’s freedom of expression and fundamental rights.

The party demanded that the government move the bill ahead only after rectifying its mistakes. It said the incumbent government was making policy and rules to curtail citizens’ freedom and rights one after another.

“The NC Parliamentary Party condemns the government’s action of curtailing people’s freedom and rights on any pretext,” the statement read. It urged all sections of society to mount pressure on the government to prevent it from enacting the IT Bill into law.

Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal lawmaker Laxman Lal Karna said in today’s era of technology, people not only expressed their opinions in the streets, but also through other channels such as social media. “We will raise the issue once the bill reaches the House for discussion,” he added.