KATHMANDU, Aug 18: Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has called on Nepali authorities to amend several articles in the new Criminal Code, which came into effect on Friday, saying that the articles limit the freedom to disseminate news and information in the public interest.
Nepali journalists could face up to three years in prison if they publish information that is deemed to be “confidential” under the new criminal code, RSF said in a statement issued on Friday. Several of its articles relating to the protection of privacy pose a serious threat to journalistic practices, it said.
“Sections 293, 294 and 295 of the Criminal Code criminalize publishing private information, recording conversations or taking pictures without permission,” it said. The international media organization expressed concerns over Article 306.2 under which showing “disrespect” toward someone either directly or through satire is also punishable by up to three years in prison.
“We call on the Nepali authorities to immediately rewrite these provisions because in their current form they seem to constitute unacceptable censorship tools,” the statement quoted Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF's Asia-Pacific desk, as saying.
“They must take account of the need to be able to gather news and information in the public interest. By leaving too much to the judge's discretion, these articles could be used to criminalize all investigative journalists for criticism of public figures.”