Kathmandu: A group of journalists in Nepal organised a demonstration in Kathmandu Wednesday, demanding abrogation of cyber law which, they said, is being used to muzzle the voice of media in the country.
Nepal Economic Media Society and Online Journalists Association demanded the abrogation of the Electronic Transaction Act.
Arjun Giri, a journalist associated with TandavNews.com, was arrested from Pokhara earlier this week for publishing a story about a local business, sparking debate about existing and proposed laws which, according to experts, could be used to restrict press freedom in Nepal.
The Electronic Transaction Act’s Article 47 and 48 are against press freedom, which is guaranteed by the Constitution of Nepal, Sitaram Bilasi, general-secretary of Nepal Economic Media Society, said.
Although the Constitution fully guarantees press freedom in practice, restrictions has been imposed on free media due to the controversial cyber Law, he said.
As there is every possibility of its misuse, the Law must be scrapped, Bilasi demanded.
The government is using the law to silence those who are critical of it, he said.
President of Federation of Nepal Journalists Govinda Acharya demanded the immediate release of Giri.
The Cyber Crime Act, which came into effect in 2006, has been frequently used against free press, Acharya said.
The Cyber Crime Act is meant for authenticating banking transactions and discourage cyber crime, and is not related to journalists or media persons, he said.
According to sources at the Federation of Nepali Journalists, dozens of reporters and editors have been arrested, detained and fined in the last few years since the Electronic Transaction Act was introduced.
It is objectionable to take actions against journalists under the Cyber Crime Act on the basis of writing news, general-secretary of the Federation Ramesh Bishta said.
More than 100 journalists staged demonstration at Maitighar Mandala in Kathmandu, protesting against the Cyber Crime Act.