Nepal's new law restricts press freedom: International journalists' body

Nepals new Criminal Codes Act curtails freedom of expression and restricts press freedom, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) said on Tuesday.

The IFJ and its affiliates -- the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) and the Nepal Press Union (NPU) -- expressed concern over the restrictive provisions and demanded immediate amendments to the Act to ensure that they met the globally accepted standards of freedom of expression.

The new act along with the Civil Codes Act 2018 became law on August 17, replacing 15 laws including 55-year-old civil and criminal laws.

The international journalist body said that certain provisions of the Act, especially Sections 293 to 308 relating to privacy and defamation, were restrictive to the press freedom and criminalize expression.

These sections had provisions such as listening or recording conversations without consent, publicizing private information without consent, taking photos without consent, selling or publishing of photos for commercial purpose without the consent of the subject, and receiving/sending or publishing unauthorized information on an electronic medium.

Violations were punishable between one and three years in prison and Rs 10,000 to Rs 30,000 ($100 to 300) in fines.

"More than 80 journalists faced criminal cases and harassment due to one provision in the Electronic Transaction Act for their news. The new act has dozens of such provisions that criminalizes written or spoken expression, and journalists face imprisonment up to three years for merely writing news," said FNJ President Govinda Acharya.

"This is against the international standards and principles of press freedom as well as the Constitution of Nepal."

The FNJ announced nationwide protests from August 28 to September 7.

--IANS

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