NEPAL: Time to act — New guidelines instruct Nepalese media to tell lies

In a February 7 order, the District Administration Office Nepalgunj in Nepal instructed members of the media to falsify news in favour of the government, which since February 1 has been under the absolute power of the king. The order follows a February 3 notice from the Ministry of Information and Communication to the effect that all and any media reports opposing the takeover by the king have been banned. The arrest and detention of large numbers of democrats, human rights activists, journalists and students have thus not been reported. All independent media have been silenced. In Nepalgunj, the instructions given to journalists were as follows:

“1. Newspapers registered in Nepalgunj and that have been publishing regularly are required to publish remaining within the parameters of this notice, after receiving a copy of the notice.
2. No newspaper/ media should publish news that could adversely affect the country’s sovereignty, unity and peace and security. 
3. Nothing should be published that would be against the Royal Family and the Royal Proclamation of February 1. 
4. Do not publish news on the strikes called by the Maoists and their sister (frontal) organizations and about the human and material loss of the security forces and government offices.
5. It is alright to mention losses suffered by the Maoists in actions by security forces but do not publish information on accidental civilian losses other than what is mentioned in the statement issued by the government spokesman. 
6. It is alright to publish information on civilian losses caused by the Maoists. 
7. It is alright for the press to verify information on Maoist activities and movements obtained from various sources with the security forces. 
8. It is alright to point out weaknesses and mistakes and irregularities at government offices after through testing (investigation) and where possible with proof, but do not publish unfounded (reports) that could assassinate the character and discourage government employees. 
9. Do not publish information and activities of political (parties) and organizations related with them; publish activities of social, religious, economic organizations. 
10. Do not publish news on the Maoists and other political organizations by quoting news and articles published or broadcast in foreign (media). Also do not publish news on activities of Maoists in Indian Territory. 
11. Compulsorily make available, free of cost, one copy of publications for monitoring to the monitoring committee.
12. Abide by other directives of the Information and Communications Ministry.”

The Asian Human Rights Commission urges the authorities to withdraw these orders and to allow freedom of expression in the country. It is a basic right of the people to be aware of what is going on in their country and to take necessary precautions for themselves. We also urge the international community to take serious note of these prohibitions, which speak to the growing repression and violations of fundamental rights in Nepal that the government is so keen to hide from world view. 

The Asian Human Rights Commission also again takes this opportunity to repeat the measures to which it has previously referred through which a broad international strategy may be developed to address the disaster in Nepal:

1. All international aid to the country must be frozen.
2. The country’s seat in the UN must be suspended for having violated its charter. 
3. All international ties with the Royal Nepalese Army and other security forces must be severed. 
4. A UN envoy must be located permanently within Nepal so as to facilitate the return to democracy.
5. The state parties to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights should request the chairperson of the Human Rights Committee to convene a Special Session in accordance with rule 3 of its Rules of Procedure to discuss the present situation in Nepal arising out of the coup.
6. A UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Nepal must be appointed, and report on developments constantly.

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AS-19-2005
Countries : Nepal,