Emancipate the social networks: Avoid arbitrary control

Ever since the Information Technology Bill, 2019 was registered in the House of Representatives by the government on February 14, there have been debates regarding various provisions in it and its side-effects, notably with regard to its provisions which allegedly chain the social networks. The Constitution of Nepal has guaranteed freedom of opinion and expression as a fundamental right under Article 17(2)(a), whereas proviso 1 of Article 17 (2) has prescribed six grounds under which…

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Don’t stifle dissent

There is growing concern among human rights groups, both regional and global, that the new legislation regarding social media use, which has been tabled in the Federal Parliament, is meant to stifle dissent, and the government, which likes to believe it is a democratic one, has the moral obligation to assuage those fears. Since the Oli government came to power a year ago, riding on the back of a near two-thirds majority, it has given…

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While the government is keen to set limits, new media has the potential to lead public discourse

Feb 22, 2019- Nepali folk singer Pashupati Sharma received a lot of attention this past week for his new single Lootna sake loota (loot if you can), but not in the way he must have expected. After being threatened by a youth wing affiliated to the ruling communist party, Sharma pulled his song from YouTube. While numerous copies of the original music video that satirises the corruption rampant in Nepal were uploaded to the video-sharing…

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Hard to say

Feb 15, 2019- In yet another attempt to shrink and possibly shut down spaces for freedom of expression, the government has proposed a new law that seeks to introduce harsh punishment for posting ‘improper’ content on social networking sites. The law, which gives authorities the agency to construe content on social media as character assassination and attacks on national sovereignty, is regressive, to say the least. The move, if anything, highlights the deep insecurities of…

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Many muzzles

Editorial Recently, officials from Province 2 have drafted an ‘Integrated Communication Bill-2075’ that criminalises ‘offenses of the media’. The vaguely-worded bill includes provisions that would allow the provincial government to order a ban on news ‘related to a subject, incident or place for a specific period of time’. A provision in the Bill also stipulates that ‘banned articles’ cannot be translated or quoted in educational curricula. And only further reflecting the values of an authoritarian…

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Case for clean feed policy

Clean feed policy can set up the base for fair competition between products that are manufactured in Nepal versus those imported. It has been implemented in almost every country in the world. Our neighbors India, China, Bangladesh and Sri-Lanka all have strict clean feed policy. Under the policy only TV commercials produced and fed by national or local advertisement companies of the country are played in and can be played on any TV channels broadcast…

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A tightened muzzle

– BHANU BHAKTA ACHARYA Jan 4, 2019- When the government with a two-thirds majority in Parliament started to rule the country, the general public held high hopes for full press freedom and democratic accountability. However, this year was marred by strategic approaches to suppress a free press environment and silencing critical voices against the interests of the government of Nepal. Various interventions in 2018 have contributed to a dismal environment for press freedom in Nepal.  To…

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Stop bullying media

Nepali political parties and their leaders have one consistent take on media: They express commitment to press freedom and make it a part of their policy. They appreciate media when they expose wrongdoings of their rivals. In such case, they also come forward to support media’s effort, or at least appear to do so. But if the same media outlets bring out their wrongdoings or write against their failure on delivery, the same political parties…

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Fury against media

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli often refers to his 14 years of imprisonment during the Panchayat regime “for the sake of democracy,” but his working strategies and actions of his government barely reflect democratic characters. Despite the fact that he leads the two-thirds majority government, he fears public criticism and cannot tolerate it if anything is written against him. Disgracefully, he dictated his cadres in September to counterattack his opponents ‘like a swarm of hornets.’…

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Cabinet decisions must be transparent

The government of K P Sharma Oli on Sunday committed such an action, which, if this is what the government is bent on doing in the days to come as well, will go down in Nepal’s history as the state’s deliberate attempt to stifle free flow of information and deny people and wider media fraternity their right to access vital information. On Sunday, the government refused to reveal the cabinet decisions to media. Such an…

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