May 28, 2019 06:00 AM NPT
KATHMANDU, May 28: A day after a series of bomb blasts were set off in different parts of Kathmandu Valley by the outlawed communist group of Netra Bikram Chand, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on Monday asked the group leader to clarify what he wanted by promoting violence.
“What do you want?” PM Oli asked, addressing a 19th anniversary function of the National Human Rights Commission, adding, “I want to put this question to the group involved in yesterday's bomb blasts. What's your demand?”
Labeling the Biplab group as anti-development elements, PM Oli said Biplab's 'revolution' was nothing other than accumulating money by planting bombs and terrorizing the people . “The Biplab group has no other intention than amassing wealth. The government will foil any attempts to disturb the peace.”
On a different note, Oli said the government will ensure full press freedom as stated in the preamble of the Constitution. “When it comes to the issue of press freedom nothing will be changed from what has been ensured in the Constitution.”
Oli, however, stressed the need for improving certain things in the media to make it accountable. “News should be fact-based. Media professionals should not cross the limit if he or she has a personal grudge against anyone,” said Oli adding, “There is no lack of vocabulary in the Nepali dictionary to present news in a civilized manner.”
The government is being widely criticized for curtailing civil liberties and press freedom in recent days, mainly after Oli came to power in 2017.
A Bill to Amend and Integrate the Media Council Act has proposed fines of up to Rs 1 million on journalists and media outlets for publishing any content in violation of the media code of ethics.
Another media law, Bill on Mass Communications, has proposed Rs 5 million to Rs 10 million in penalties or 10 to 15 years in jail or both for journalists publishing or broadcasting any content undermining national sovereignty, territorial integrity or nationality. The bill has also proposed confiscation of media equipment if the media outlets and journalists are found publishing offensive content.
Additionally, a Bill to Amend the NHRC ACT 2012 has largely curtailed the powers of the human rights commission.
Worried over proposed legal measures aimed at stifling the media and rights, the media fraternity, rights defenders and civil society leaders have been protesting against the government.
At the function, PM Oli claimed that the government would not go against basic principles of democracy and human rights. Stating that there was no indication of the curtailment of rights and liberties, Oli said the government will not do anything that weakens the human rights culture in the country.