October 21, 2005
New media laws taken to Nepalese Supreme Court
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the global organisation representing more than 500,000 journalists in over 110 countries, supports a move by the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ), the Nepal Bar Association (NBA) and other activist groups to challenge the new media ordinance in the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court has issued show cause notices to several ministries and both houses of parliament regarding the ordinance announced by King Gyanendra on October 9, 2005.
The ordinance banned news programs on FM stations, restricted media licences, forbid any news that was damaging to the king or any member of his family, and increased penalties for defamation ten-fold.
“This action in the Supreme Court offers hope for all journalists and media organisations in Nepal that this unjust ordinance will be withdrawn,” said IFJ president Christopher Warren.
Advocates Ravi Raj Bhandary and Kaher Singh Khadka argued that the ordinance goes against the spirit of the Constitution of Nepal, 1990, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966.
Lawyers and media activists have urged journalists to defy the new media laws. Advocate Bhimarjun Acharya claimed that if an ordinance was unjust, unfair and unnecessary, then people should ignore it.
He said that ordinances should be introduced only if something is immediately necessary, and cannot be brought in on the basis of desires.
Acharya also claimed that under the amended media laws, the government would lose its right to hold its three media outlets - Radio Nepal, Nepal Television and Gorkhapatra Corporation.
The Ministry of Information and Communications has warned journalists that the government will take action against anyone who defies the ordinance.
They have notified all FM broadcasting outlets not to transmit or broadcast news-based programs, as ordered by the king.
However, the ministry did not specify what type of action they would take against journalists or institutions who violated the new laws.
The Supreme Court hearing will continue later this month on October 30, 2005.
For more information about the Nepal crisis visit www.ifj-asia.org/page/nepalcrisis.html
For further information contact Christopher Warren on +61 (0) 411 757 668.
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries