Biratnagar/Kathmandu, May 18
Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba today said in Biratnagar that his party would prevent the government from passing the Nepal Media Council Bill registered in the National Assembly, at any cost.
Talking to mediapersons at Biratnagar Airport, Deuba reiterated that his party would not allow the government to pass the bill from Parliament. “The bill that curtails press freedom and human rights has to be withdrawn. We will not let the bill pass at any cost,” he added.
Deuba, however, clarified that his party would not resort to violence and vandalism to press the government to withdraw the bill. “The government wants to curtail press freedom through the bill and this is unacceptable,” Deuba stated.
Deuba claimed that his party’s role in the Parliament was effective. He slammed the government for doing nothing in one-and-a-half years. “NC will fight against the government’s intervention in judiciary, press and failure to protect and promote human rights,” Deuba said.
The NC and Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal are up in arms against provisions in the Nepal Media Council Bill and National Human Rights Act (Amendment) Bill and will stall House proceedings to prevent passage of these bills.
The Nepali Congress whip in the House of Representatives Pushpa Bhusal told THT that her party would resort to any kind of pressure tactics to force the government to withdraw the Media Council Bill and the National Human Rights Commission Act (Amendment) Bill.
“The government should withdraw these bills. Simply amending the bills will not be enough because the government brought these bills to control press freedom and an independent constitutional body, the NHRC,” Bhusal said. “The government brought the Media Council Bill with the intention of controlling the press. It brought the NHRC bill to place the constitutionally independent body under the jurisdiction of the attorney general. These two bills are dangerous for democracy,” she said and added that the government was trying to hold the sword of Damocles over the head of the press and NHRC and her party would not tolerate this.
RJP-N lawmaker Laxman Lal Karna said his party was preparing to stall House proceedings, but would take a call on this tomorrow itself. “We are going to stall House proceedings with our demands and in relation to provisions of these two bills, which we think will curtail press freedom and censure the constitutionally independent NHRC,” Karna said, adding that both free press and independent NHRC were lifelines for democracy.
A version of this article appears in print on May 19, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.