Freedom Forum has been seriously concerned over the blatant misuse of Press Council Nepal, a state institution, against press freedom and journalists’ right.

Yet again, the Council, a media content regulatory body, has written to a national daily to furnish clarification within 24 hours on why it published a cartoon on former prime minister and leader.

The Council sought the clarification from the national daily, Nagarik, for publishing a cartoon on Ex-Prime Minister and Chairperson of the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist), KP Oli, on October 20, 2022.

The daily had published the cartoon by Rabin Sayami on October 20, asking various questions to Chairperson Oli with heading “Call KP Ba”. “Where is the pointed rail, Ba? I’d booked a ticket for ship. Where is its station, Ba? I’ve brought a new gas cylinder in the kitchen. Don’t you like to inaugurate it, Ba? After winning election, don’t you like to dissolve parliament again, Ba?”

Chairperson Oli is fondly addressed as ‘Ba’ (meaning father) by his party cadres.

With the November 20 election to the federal and provincial parliaments round around the corner in Nepal, political parties and their leaders and candidates have intensified election campaigns, and many making tall talk. UML is not an exception to it.

But, the Press Council Nepal, being politically motivated, wrote a clarification letter to Editor of the Nagarik daily, seeking why it published such cartoon.

The cartoon, as an artistic form of a satirical expression, in no way has breached the Journalist Code nor the Election Code, as the Council has blamed, but questioned the empty promises of the leaders and parties.

Council’s letter is against the Constitution of Nepal which has ensured press freedom and freedom of expression.

Freedom Forum condemns the Council’s letter because its a sheer violation of press freedom. It has discredited media and working journalists in Nepal.

Executive Chief of Freedom Forum, Taranath Dahal, comments, “Repeated misuse of Press Council Nepal, a state institution, to castigate journalists and media, exposes tyrannical nature to suppress constitutional rights of press freedom and free speech. Such acts of the Council discredits activism and enthusiasm of Nepali journalists who have been exposing political foibles, irregularities and corruption. The politically motivated letter by the Council further erodes trust on public institution in the country. Press Council must limit its boundary and encourage self-regulation in media rather than taking coercive measures.”

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Freedom Forum
Thapathali, Kathmandu