Online Media Directives threatens press freedom & FoE online

The Online Media Operation Directives 2016 is a serious threat to press freedom and freedom of expression online in Nepal as the newly approved directives goes against the core principles of democracy and free press.

The Government of Nepal, on June 14, approved the ‘Online Media Operation Directives – 2016 (Nepali PDF link)’ aimed to ‘make online journalism responsible, respected and bring it within the jurisdiction of Press Council of Nepal’. However, the document gives an overall impression that the motive behind the Directives is not to facilitate the development of the online media but rather the authoritarian style control over the online media, and criminalization of freedom of expression online.

Legal Censorship

Clause 21 of the Directives gives the state right to disrupt the website if a) online media is found operated without registration or annual renewal, b) materials deemed unpublishable is published or broadcast, and c) any act deemed against the Directives or applicable laws. Clause 6 also states that if the online media failed to renew annually, the service of the online media shall be obstructed according to the existing laws.

This empowers the state’s agency arbitrary power of censorship. The Department of Information is stated as the agency to the register and renew the online media ‘if the documents presented are found satisfactory after necessary verification’. The blocking of website that are deemed to be censored will then be blocked without judicial process on the decision of the Department.

The censorship provision is against the constitutional rights of the citizens; and a violation of the Constitution. Continue reading

KeepItOn

CMR-Nepal joins #KeepItOn campaign to fight internet shutdowns

The Center for Media Research – Nepal (CMR-Nepal) joined nearly 70 organizations from five continents in launching the #KeepitOn campaign to fight internet shutdowns worldwide.

The #KeepitOn campaign aims to bring together voices from across the globe to push back on internet shutdowns at every level, from governments to telcos to tech companies to everyday internet users. It began with the adoption of an international definition of internet shutdowns at RightsCon Silicon Valley.

Among other targets, the campaign will challenge service providers to fight back against government shutdown requests; highlight the use of shutdowns during elections; and build consensus at the U.N. and other intergovernmental organizations that people have a basic right to access information and speak freely online. Continue reading

New research report ‘Trespassed on Press’ released

Trespassed on PressTo mark the World Press Freedom Day 2016, the CMR-Nepal released a new report titled ‘Trespassed on Press: 177 Journalists Subjected of Press Freedom Violation in 177 Days of Madhesh Movement‘ by senior research fellow Binod Dhungel.

The report enlists and analyzes incidents of press freedom violations in Terai and elsewhere during the protests from August 16, 2015 to February 12, 2016. During the period, there were mounted aggression agains the media and journalists. The 25-page report also outlines the authorities’ attempts to normalize the situation.

The researcher, Binod Dhungel, is a well-known name in Nepali journalism sector. A post-graduate in political science; and mass communication and journalism; and an M.Phil degree in English, Dhungel had a decade-long journalism career having served Radio Nepal, Nepal Samacharpatra daily, Nepal Television and Nepal FM. Since 2004, Dhungel is the Nepal correspondent for Reporters Without Borders (RSF). He has authored and edited various research-based books including “Independent Radio under Royal Regime: Stories of Suppression and Resistance” (2007, Nepali) and “Press Council in Nepal: A research-based Contemporary History” (2012, Nepali).

To download the report, go to the Downloads / Resources page.

Public Funding and Transparency in South Asia

The quest to promote a transparency and accountability in Nepal’s system of governance has continued to suffer setbacks. Ever since I first started to grasp the importance of transparency and accountability, both words have been treated as mere political catch phrases among politicians who only wish to pay lip service to them. There is a saying in Nepali, ‘jun jogi ayepani kani chireko’ which means that everybody has the same nature. Linking this saying to political parties, it might suggest that all political parties are the same regardless of the differences in their ideologies since they do not bring about change in the lives of ordinary Nepalese. There is widespread sentiment among citizens in Nepal that political parties are wildly corrupt, and this appears to be supported by Transparency International’s 2015 report that shows that Nepal’s political leadership has not seriously attempted to deal with corruption in the country. Continue reading

Consolidating democracy in Nepal through transparent campaign finance

Nepal’s democracy has struggled to deliver since its 2006 People’s Movement, which ended the decade long civil war and established Nepal as a republic. Plagued by corruption, nepotism, and an inability to execute basic duties of governance, the country’s leading political parties have often found themselves in a crisis of public trust that has strengthened the hand of ‘radical political parties and royalist forces seeking to destabilize the state.

During elections, the widespread practice of campaign spending at levels far exceeding legal limits through donations from undisclosed contributors has fueled popular frustration. Furthermore, this practice has distorted representative democracy through the sale of political office, thereby making financiers rather than ordinary citizens the key beneficiaries of the electoral process.

In his presentation at the National Endowment for Democracy, Washington DC, CMR-Nepal chairman Tilak Pathak explained why campaign finance must be reformed in order to consolidate democracy in Nepal. Drawing from case studies gathered throughout his career in journalism, he traced the money behind Nepal’s elections and proposed effective mechanisms that can help provide greater transparency and accountability. His presentation was followed by comments with Ivan Doherty.

Download the PDF of Pathak’s presentation here.