16 JANUARY 2020 I Amnesty International has called on Nepal to amend the disputed IT Bill so that it is in line with international standards.
The human rights group urged the Nepalese parliament to ensure that the law is not used to criminalise the peaceful exercise of freedom of expression.
“Nepal was once envied by people across the region for its openness towards critical views and opinions. That reputation is now at risk as the government continues to crack down on what people say, write and even sing. The IT Bill and all other legislation must be amended and brought into line with international law and standards to guarantee people’s right to freedom of expression,” Biraj Patnaik, South Asia Director at Amnesty International, said in a news release.
It further said that the IT Bill is one of three proposed pieces of legislation that use vague and overbroad clauses to unduly restrict the right to freedom of expression.
The group also claimed that musical artists Durgesh Thapa and Samir Ghishing popularly known as VTEN were arrested for the content of their songs.
Several provisions in the IT Bill do not meet international human rights law and standards. For example, section 94 of the bill vaguely criminalizes people who post content on social media if it is deemed to be against “national unity, self-respect, national interest, relationship between federal units”.
Other provisions of the IT Bill, which are open to very wide interpretation, could also be abused to stifle critical opinions, satire, public dialogue, and public commentary. For example, the bill prohibits “teasing”, “deceiving”, “demotivating”, and “demeaning”.
Section 88 of the bill also restricts the publishing of such content through use of any electronic medium, which could include news sites, blogs and even emails, Amnesty further said in its news release earlier today.