November 13, 2023
We express deep concern and disappointment over the decision of the Government of Nepal, Council of Ministers on November 13, 2023, to ban popular social networking app TikTok. It is our conclusion that this decision of the Council of Ministers is extremely untimely and arbitrary, and that it seriously attacks the basic principles of democracy, weakens civil liberties, and undermines the rule of law.
The constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression is a cornerstone of any democratic society, reflecting the fundamental right of individuals to freely express their opinions and access information. Social media platforms like TikTok need to be recognized for their role in providing a platform for citizens to voice their opinions, engage in public discourse, foster creativity, promote small and medium enterprises and businesses, and provide entertainment. Such digital platforms have been established as the best means of democratic discourse in recent days.
The problem caused by any contentious content in any social network can be addressed by the laws and regulations made under the constitution and constitutional system and should be handled accordingly. We believe that the decision to ban the platform in this way is unconstitutional and contrary to the mandate obtained from citizens through elections. This decision is in violation of the constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression as mentioned in Article 17 (2)(a) of the Constitution of Nepal and Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966, to which Nepal is a party.
By banning TikTok blanketly, the government’s intention appears to be to block a platform of communication and expression, limiting the opportunities of Nepalese citizens to engage in online conversations, share their views, and participate in the global digital community. Moreover, such a ban appears to adversely affect the economic opportunities of content creators and small and medium enterprises, posing a serious risk to their business stability.
We, the following organizations and individuals, urge the government to reconsider this decision and find alternative measures to address legitimate concerns without violating the constitutionally protected right to freedom of expression. If there is any illegal content on the TikTok platform that is contrary to prevailing laws, we call on all concerned to seek remedies under the legal system and to ensure the responsible use of the platform under international standards while protecting the democratic values enshrined by the constitution.
Recognizing the transformative potential of digital platforms to promote freedom of expression, access to information, social communication, creativity, and cultural exchange, protection of the public interest and respect for individual freedoms are essential. Keeping in mind the constitutional rights and the wide impact of the vibrant digital landscape in Nepal, we urge the Government of Nepal to correct this decision.
Organizations and Individuals
|Babu Ram Aryal||Digital Freedom Coalition||Chairman|
|Santosh Sigdel||Digital Rights Nepal||Executive Director|
|Ujjwal Acharya||Center for Media Research – Nepal||Former Chairperson|
|Dr. Kundan Aryal||Informal Sector Service Center (INSEC)||Chairman|
|Indra Prasad Aryal||Human Rights Organization Nepal||Chairman|
|Sanjeeb Ghimire||Freedom Forum Nepal||General Secretary|
|Sapana Shahi||Internet Governance Institute||Director|
|Laxman Dutt Pant||Media Action Nepal||Chairman|
|Pravesh Subedi||Digital Media Foundation||Chairman|
|Rajan Parajuli||Antenna Foundation Nepal||Chairman|
|Kamala Adhikari||Forum for Digital Equality||Executive Director|
|Ashirwad Tripathi||Educating Nepal||Chairman|
|Anand Gautam||Youth IGF Nepal||Chairman|
|Narayan Adhikari||Accountability Lab||Chairman|
|Babita Basnet||Media Advocacy Group||Founding Chairman|
|Bikram Shrestha||Nepal Internet Foundation||Chairman|
|Prof. Dr. Suvarna Shakya||Center for Cyber Security Research and Innovation (CSRI)||Chairman|
|Chiranjeevi Adhikari||Information Security Response Team Nepal (NPSERT)||Chairman|
|Nirajan Thaplia||Amnesty Nepal||Executive Director|
|Subha Kayastha||Body and Data||Executive Director|
|Dr. Bhumiraj Chapagai||Sharecast Initiatives||Co-Founder/Director|
|Navraj Dhakal||Net for Good Alliance||coordinator|
|Shyam Kumar Pokharel||Samrakshan Nepal||Director|
|Anil Raghuvanshi||Child SafeNet||Founding Chairman|
|Jeevan Bhandari||Online TV Journalists Association||Chairman|
|Bishwajit Tiwari||Information and Human Rights Research Center||Founding Chairman|
|Rabiraj Baral||Media Kurakani||Founder and Editor|
|Deepak Adhikari||Nepal Check||Co-Founder|