A Statement from CIVICUS forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission

The state of civic space in Nepal is rated as ‘obstructed’ by the CIVICUS Monitor. Documented violations of fundamental freedoms include arbitrary arrests and the use of excessive force with impunity during protests, as well as the ongoing targeting of journalists, including through harassment, attacks and criminalisation.

Amnesty International, in its global annual report published in April 2024 highlighted how security forces in Nepal detained activists and individuals criticising the government and ruling party politicians, and frequently resorted to unlawful force against protesters. Torture and other ill-treatment by security forces was also reported and authorities failed to carry out credible and independent investigations into deaths in custody.

Nepal moved up 21 spots to reach the 74th position in the World Press Freedom Index 2024, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in May 2024. The country scored 60.52 points in 2024, 57.89 points in 2023.

In recent months, and indigenous human rights defender and anti-corruption activist have faced harassment and threats. A media group chair was detained because of their reporting on the Home Minister. A youth was harassed and intimidated for his social media post while the Tik Tok ban remains. There were arrests and excessive force used in protests by a political party. Police also arrested individuals and student activists protesting around Nepalis in Russia.



UN experts expressed concern on 14th May 2024 over reports of ongoing retaliations against human rights defenders because of their opposition to the development of the Chhaya Center retail and entertainment complex in Nepal.

According to the UN, construction of the Chhaya Center in the Thamel tourist district in Kathmandu has led to destruction of the historic Kamal Pokhari pond and disrupted the daily rituals and cultural practices of the Indigenous Pradhan Newar community. About 100 shops, a cinema and restaurants are now operating, with another 100 retail outlets due to open.

Indigenous human rights defender Bhagabat Narsingh Pradhan has led the campaign to restore the Kamal Pokhari pond. Because of his activism, Pradhan has faced threats, including intimidating house visits by trade union leaders employed at the Chhaya Center and a contempt of court case filed against him in the Supreme Court of Nepal.

The UN experts said: “Retaliatory acts against human rights defenders are deplorable and unacceptable” and that “the targeting of human rights defenders for the sole exercise of their right to freedom of opinion and expression violates international human rights norms.”


Prominent right to information (RTI) activist and human rights defender Sharada Bhusal was subjected to verbal abuse by a local government official following a request for information in March 2024.

According to Freedom Forum, Sharada Bhusal had requested, through email, information relating to the municipality’s internal and external audit reports using an RTI application on 31st January 2024

On 31st March 2024, Chief Administrative Officer of the Shivasatakshi Municipality, Amrit Bahadur Rai, called Bhusal on her mobile and spoke abusively. Rai shouted at Bhusal for seeking information through her email and accused the activist of intentionally trying to trouble government officials under the pretext of a RTI request.

Freedom Forum condemned the behaviour of the public officer and reminded the authorities that “every citizen has right to information as guaranteed by the constitution”. They noted that such actions by government employees “undermines efforts in building an RTI regime”.


Media group chair arrested and detained

The chairperson and publisher of the Kantipur Media Group, Kailash Sirohiya, was arrested on 21st May 2024, allegedly over supposed irregularities in the details on his citizenship card.

However, according to the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), the reason for Sirohiya’s arrest was that the Kantipur Daily had published a series of reports on the misappropriation of funds from various cooperatives linked to the sitting Home Minister Rabi Lamichhane while he was the managing director of the Gorkha Media Network. The AHRC said that the person who filed the complaint against Sirohiya, which led to his arrest, is a cadre of the home minister’s party.

According to the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliates, Sirohiya has denied all claims and has claimed the arrest was an “act of vengeance” for Kantipur’s reporting on the Home Minister.

Sirohiya was kept under judicial custody in Dhanusha in the southern Madhesh province for nine days, but was released on 29th May 2024 on the condition that he appears before the police when summoned.

Media unions, press freedom advocates and journalists’ organisations have condemned the arrest. On 23rd May 2024, 31 editors of leading publications wrote to Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal raising their concerns over the manner and timing of his arrest, and stating their commitments to fighting for press freedom. Supporters also held a protest outside the Dhanusha District Police Office.

The Nepal Press Union (NPU) said: “The NPU strongly condemns the arrest of Kantipur Chairman Sirohiya from the working room by police on the instructions of Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Rabi Lamichhane, following the continuous investigative news that was published in the Kantipur daily about cooperative fraud. Although police say that the arrest was made due to a dual citizenship issue, the Union assume that Sirohiya was arrested on the instructions of Mr. Lamichhane, with the intention of suppressing the freedoms of the press and expression by abusing his power and authority.”

The IFJ said: “The arrest of Kailash Sirohiya is deeply concerning, especially considering the ongoing investigative work focused on allegations of misconduct by the Home Minister. Investigations against journalists and media personnel cannot be informed by personal or political reasons, and authorities must ensure that Nepal’s commitment to press freedom is upheld.”


In April 2024, a youth was harassed and intimidated by the police following a social media post critical of the government. Ganesh Man Singh Thakuri, a resident of Jajarkot district of Sudurpaschim Province, was arrested and brought to the Cyber Bureau of the police in Kathmandu for interrogation about his social media post.

According to Freedom Forum, Thakuri had posted a comment on a Facebook post critical of Home Minister Rabi Lamichhane. During the police interrogation at the Cyber Bureau, officers asked him to show proof of what he had written on social media and threatened to send him to jail following an order from the Home Minister.

Due to the pressure of undergoing another round of police interrogation, the youth attempted suicide by consuming poison. Police rushed him to the hospital and he underwent treatment.


The ban on TikTok in Nepal is being challenged in the Supreme Court. The hearing which was schedule for 9th May 2024 was postponed for a third time to September 2024.

As previously documented, in November 2023, Nepal banned the popular video-sharing platform TikTok, citing negative effects on the country. Minister for Communications and Information Technology Rekha Sharma said the decision was made because TikTok was consistently used to share content that “disturbs social harmony and disrupts family structures and social relations”.

At the time, Access Now said the ban was “a gross violation of freedom of expression” and that it was “not only a disproportionate move by the Nepali authorities, but also an undemocratic one”.



On 9th April 2024, Nepali police fired tear gas and water cannon as thousands marched in the capital Kathmandu demanding the restoration of a constitutional monarchy and a Hindu state. The protest staged by the Rastriya Prajatantra Party – the fifth largest party in the parliament – called for its 40-point demands to be addressed.

Police spokesman Nawaraj Adhikari told AFP that police fired tear gas and water cannon to disperse the demonstrators after they broke into a restricted area. The party said some of its cadres sustained injuries during the protest.

Nepal became a secular republic with a federal system in 2008, after parliament abolished the monarchy as part of a peace deal that ended a decade-long civil war in which more than 16,000 people were killed.


The police detained at least 15 people who protested in front of the south gate of Singha Durbar on 1st April 2024, demanding the protection of the lives of Nepalis serving in the Russian army.

They protesters were demanding the return of bodies of those who had died fighting on behalf of the Russian army in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the search for those who have lost contact and the rescue of stranded Nepalis in Russia.

Police said that those who were protesting in front of the federal government secretariat complex in the country were arrested as they were holding the demonstration in a prohibited area. Kritu Bhandari, leader of awareness campaign activists, was detained among others.

On 29th April 2024, police arrested another six people demonstrating in front of the Russian Embassy in Kathmandu. Those arrested inclue Kritu Bhandari, Sirani Gharti Magar, Usha Khatri, Roji Pun, Devendra Bhatt and Mohan Bhatt.

They protested in front of the embassy demanding the repatriation of Nepalis serving in the Russian army. The victims’ family members have also forwarded a 13-point demand to the government.


At least 11 activists from the Nepal Student Union (NSU), the student wing of the Nepali Congress, were arrested for protesting in front of the Parliament building in New Baneshwar, Kathmandu.

They staged a protest on 12th May 2024 against Home Minister Rabi Lamichhane. They chanted slogans demanding the formation of a parliamentary committee to investigate cooperative fraud amounting to millions in which Lamichhane is allegedly involved.

Lamichhane has been accused of fraud in a cooperative duping savers of millions of rupees. Lamichhane has denied the allegations, stating he was unaware of the fraud. However, evidence of his involvement in the fraud has come forward in the course of the investigation being conducted. Allegations have also been made against Lamichhane for misusing his authority to transfer top-positioned police personnel who have been investigating the case.