Attempts to censor media draw flak

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Feb 27, 2018-

Various organisations working in the field of human rights, freedom of expression and law have expressed serious concerns over Chief Justice Gopal Prasad Parajuli’s order to Press Council Nepal to probe news reports published by Kantipur daily.

They were of the view that the court order aims to establish a precedent of pre-censorship, which will be against the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech and expression. The Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) has said that its attention was drawn to the SC order in a contempt of court case against Kantipur daily.

In a statement on Monday, the FNJ said that publication and dissemination of any news item is the constitutional right of any media. 

“The Constitution of Nepal (2015) guarantees press freedom, clearly mentioning discretionary rights of a media house,” read the statement. The FNJ has said it will hold an internal meeting and discussions with the stakeholders on the SC order before issuing any further statements.

The Human Rights and Peace Society Nepal said that growing intolerance demonstrated by the Supreme Court (SC) leadership had saddened it. HURPES expressed its readiness to stand on the frontline against attempts to restrain press freedom.

In a statement on Monday, the society said the SC leadership had gone against sovereign principles of justice in a recent series of events including the contempt case against Kantipur. “Press freedom is the main pillar of democracy and healthy criticism its jewel,” HURPES General Secretary Uttam Pudasaini stated. 

“Peace Society hopes that the respectable court, which is also the guardian of media, will not attack press freedom in a prejudiced manner.”

Nepali Press Union expressed serious concern over Parajuli’s order arguing that there should be no attempts to control the press. “We are of the view that there must not be any attempts to control press freedom,” said NPU Chairman Badri Sigdel.

Former FNJ chairman Mahendra Bista said a contempt of court case against media cannot be registered on the basis of reports related to varying dates of birth of the chief justice. “First CJ Parajuli himself issued the order, which does not match the international practice. Second, the language used in the order does not respect the spirit of freedom of speech and expression,” Bista told the Post. 

He said Press Council Nepal is the organisation responsible for monitoring compliance with the journalists’ code of conduct.

Published: 27-02-2018 08:21

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