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International Partnership Mission recommends amendments to Nepal's draft constitution

Riot police personnel stand guard in front of the parliament in Kathmandu, 22 January 2015
Riot police personnel stand guard in front of the parliament in Kathmandu, 22 January 2015

REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

This statement was originally published on ifj.org on 24 July 2015.

The Nepal International Partnership Mission (NIMP), which included the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), today released its analysis of the draft constitution which is currently been considered by Nepal's Parliament. As a member of the NIMP, the IFJ joins the mission in outlining a number of key recommendations to the draft constitution to ensure the promotion and support of freedom of expression, media freedom and the right to information in Nepal.

The NIMP statement focuses on three of the constitutional proposals on human rights, highlighting some issues for the articles relating to freedom of expression, media freedom and the right to information. The criticisms illustrate the conflict between the draft constitution and Nepal's international obligations, particularly the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which Nepal ratified in 1991.

The NIMP statement included a number of recommendations for revising the draft constitution to ensure freedom of expression, media freedom and the right to information and properly guaranteed.

Recommendations:

To bring the provisions on freedom of expression, freedom of the media and the right to information in the draft Constitution into line with international law, we suggest the following:
* The rights to freedom of expression and information should apply to everyone, not just citizens.
* The terms 'nationality', 'integrity' and 'harmonious relations subsiding among federal units' should be removed as grounds justifying restrictions on freedom of expression.
* The references to 'harmonious relations subsisting among… peoples of various castes, tribes, religions or communities' should be replaced by the idea of incitement to violence, discrimination or hatred against these groups.
* The references to types of laws - namely defamation, contempt of court and incitement to an offence - should be replaced with references to types of interests, such as 'reputation', the 'independence and authority of the judiciary' and 'public order'.
* The weak standards in Articles 22 and 24, such as 'may undermine' or 'may jeopardize', should be replaced by stronger tests, such as 'would be likely to undermine'.
* The right to information should cover all information, not just information deemed to be of concern to a citizen or the public.
* A test for restrictions on the right to information should be introduced into article 32, which should be modelled along the same lines as the test for restrictions on the general guarantee of freedom of expression.

The IFJ said: "We join the NIMP in calling on the Nepali Government to ensure that freedom of expression, media freedom and right to information are strongly enshrined in the Nepal Constitution, fostering and supporting these vital components of the country's democracy. The IFJ also encourages the government to consult the media community on the constitution and the impact any legislation will have on media freedom for Nepal."

Click here to read the full statement.

Or download the statement below.
nepal_mission_statment.pdf (129 KB)

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