Disseminating Information now a terrorist offence in Nepal

Amendments made by the Nepalese Government to the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Punishment and Control) Ordinance (TADO) have the potential to criminalise the basic act of the media, of supplying information, says the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).

On March 26, the king’s approval of the renewal of TADO, published in the gazette on Monday April 3, saw the inclusion of new provisions saying that the actions of those classed as Maoist ‘accomplices’ can be considered ‘crimes related to terrorism and disruption’ and that the dissemination of Maoist related information is punishable under the anti-terrorism law.

The IFJ has concerns over the amendment in particular the definition of ‘accomplice’, which defines accomplices as those who; remain in contact with, give assistance to, supply information to or disseminate information from the Maoists as being an accomplice.

Individuals under the provision could face between one to three years imprisonment or 10,000-50,000 NPR (150-700 USD) fine or both if found guilty of disseminating Maoist information.

The law has also broadened the definition of crimes related to terrorism and disruption to include; acts of seizing property, depriving people of use of their property, abductions, supporting the Maoists knowingly or unknowingly either by extending economic or material support and shelter, all new additions since the promulgation of TADO in October 2005.

It remains unclear if political parties and the media fall within the ambit of the new provisions, however in recent times government ministers have publicly labelled the political parties as accomplices of the Maoists since entered in the 12-point understanding with the Maoists thus suggesting the newly introduced provisions are aimed at further restricting and punishing any relationships currently standing between the media, political parties and the Maoists.

“The IFJ is very concerned over the latest provisions to TADO,” said IFJ president Christopher Warren.

”These provisions if read in their narrow definition will prevent journalists and media professionals from doing their job of reporting the news,” said Warren.

“By being unable to disseminate information on Maoist activities in news reports, the Nepalese community will be deprived of much needed information, news and analysis on the current conflict situation in Nepal,” said Warren.

“Such laws are in clear breach of Nepal’s human rights obligations and we call on the government to drop all proposed amendments,” said Warren.

See http://www.ifj-asia.org/page/nepal.html for more information on the situation in Nepal.

For more information please contact IFJ Asia Pacific +61 2 9333 0919

The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in over 110 countries