(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - The following is a 31 March 2009 joint statement by ARTICLE 19, FNJ and Freedom Forum:
Nepal: Government Adopts Regressive Film Regulation
Amendments to Nepal's Regulation on Film (Production, Exhibition and Distribution) 2057 (2001 AD) were published in the Official Gazette on 2 February 2009. The amendments, proposed by the Ministry of Information and Communication with the advice of the Film Development Board, increase the scope of prior censorship and impose further limitations on the distribution of foreign films and participation by foreigners in the Nepali film industry.
An Agenda for Change, a joint ARTICLE 19, Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) and Freedom Forum (FF) publication setting out a comprehensive programme for freedom of expression reform in Nepal, addresses the issue of film regulation. Recommendations 61 and 62 call for the abolishing of all prior censorship of films and the Film Censor Board, and for the transformation of the Film Development Board into an independent body tasked with developing the film industry in Nepal.
"ARTICLE 19, FNJ and Freedom Forum strongly condemn these amendments," said Dharmendra Jha, President of FNJ. "This demonstrates the attitude of government and proves that it is not committed to promoting freedom of expression despite having made a commitment to this on many occasions."
The major problems with the amendments are as follows:
- The regime of prior censorship - including in relation to licensing, producing, importing and releasing films - is more onerous than before.
- Only Nepali citizens may own cinemas and the equipment they use.
- Nepali and foreign films may not be released on the same day in the same cinema.
- The government has more power over the release and distribution of film.
ARTICLE 19, FNJ and FF call on the Nepalese authorities to abolish these regressive provisions on film regulation and instead to put in place a system for film regulation which respects international and constitutional guarantees for freedom of expression, in accordance with the recommendations in the Agenda for Change.
"An Agenda for Change: The Right to Freedom of Expression in Nepal" is available in English at: http://www.article19.org/pdfs/publications/nepal-agenda-for-change.pdf
Federation of Nepali Journalists