The threat to press freedom in Nepal must be nipped in the bud before it spreads

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The threat to press freedom in Nepal must be nipped in the bud before it spreads

  • A new bill in Nepal with its proposals of steep fines and long jail terms poses a grave risk to Press Freedom in the country.
  • Human Rights Watch called for a review of Nepal’s new Mass Media Bill.
  • Similar risks to Press Freedom have been witnessed in the recent past both in India and many other countries.
Human Rights Watch has strongly recommended Nepal to review the new Mass Media Bill that aims to curb press freedom.

The Nepal government wants to impose a bill that imposes a fine up to US$88,409 and jail terms up to 15 years or both for publishing any content that harms the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and national unity, Eleven Myanmar reports.

HRW believes the draft laws are 'vague' and 'ill-defined'. According to them, citizens have little way of knowing what would be deemed to violate these arbitrary standards.

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The authorities in Nepal should stop prosecuting journalists, and social media users for peaceful reporting and online expression said Human Rights Watch. Nepal should avoid conducting legal proceedings against social media users and journalists, it added further.

Similar risks to press freedom and the safety of journalists have been witnessed in India in recent times.

Just this week, the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh, I ndia filed a case against a journalist who shot the video of school children being served roti with salt for mid-day meal in Mirzapur. He is also reportedly facing life threats.

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Pawan Jaiswal, a local journalist with Jansandesh Times, was booked on charges of cheating and criminal conspiracy, based on a complaint by the Block Education Officer of the area. The officer accused him and a representative of the local village head of conspiring to defame the Uttar Pradesh government.

India ranks 140 in the global press freedom index. Violence and abuse against journalists is very common in the country. In 2018, six journalists were killed, said the report.

‘These murders highlighted the many dangers Indian journalists face, especially those working for non-English-language media outlets in rural areas.’

Not just India

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From Donald Trump to Xi Jinping, current world leaders have been rough with journalists who are critical of them.

Donald Trump revoked the media pass for a CNN White House Correspondent, Jim Acosta, in 20xx because he aggressively questioned all the press conferences, The Daily Beast says.

In 2019, China too expelled a WSJ journalist for publishing reports alleging involvement of Xi Jingping’s cousin in gambling, reported NDTV.

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Hong Kong saw the lowest level of press freedom during the massive protest. As many as 29 complaints were received by the Hong Kong Journalists Association alleging abuse by police officers for coverage of the protest, reported South China Morning Post .

Earlier, two Reuters journalists spent 500 days in detention in Myanmar. The two had been sentenced to seven years in prison for covering country's crackdown on Rohingya Muslims during a military operation in 2017, reported Reuters.

See also:
After 500 days in Myanmar prison for speaking truth to power, the two Reuters journalists walk free
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