From Human Rights Watch
The government of Nepal should revise several pieces of draft legislation that threaten to undermine the right to freedom of expression, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to Prime Minister K. P. Oli. The government should also amend the recently revised Penal Code, which criminalizes speech on vague grounds, including that it may “annoy” or “trouble” someone.
The draft laws currently before parliament, including the Media Council Bill, Information Technology Bill, and the Mass Communications Bill, contain numerous loosely defined and draconian measures. These include offenses for harming the nation’s “self-pride” or damaging an individual’s “image or prestige.” Provisions controlling online and social media activity are especially sweeping. Many of the new offenses carry fines and lengthy prison sentences.
“Nepal has a proud tradition of public activism, but if these laws are passed in their current form, they will undermine the freedoms that Nepalis fought so hard to achieve,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “After years of conflict and political instability, the laws being passed under Nepal’s new democratic constitution should uphold fundamental freedoms, not set out to curb them.”
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