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Last Updated: Monday, 17 October 2005, 10:57 GMT 11:57 UK
Fears in Nepal over media curbs
A riot policeman detains a journalist protesting against Nepal's King Gyanendra in Kathmandu in September 2005
The government now has the power to bar journalists from the field
Journalists in Nepal could get two years in prison for criticising King Gyanendra, according to a new law.

Details of the new law was released on Monday after its announcement on 9 October, a day before government offices closed for a week-long holiday.

Journalist groups have said they will file a case in the nation's supreme court against the restrictive law.

King Gyanendra has imposed restrictions on the media ever since he seized direct power in February.

Gagging

The law also bars private radio stations from broadcasting news and makes it a crime to criticise the royal family.

These extremely repressive amendments to the press law are a major blow to journalists in Nepal, who have worked tirelessly to preserve their livelihood, from a king who appears determined to destroy the independent press
Ann Cooper

The law has also increased the maximum fine on newspapers and journalists by ten times to 500,000 rupees ($7,000).

It also gives the government the power to revoke journalists' press accreditation - barring them from the field.

"We are going to file the case at the Supreme Court on Tuesday. The new laws not only violate the press rights guaranteed by the constitution but also several decisions held by the courts in favour of press freedom," said Balram Baniya of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists.

He said journalists would also protest in the streets.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has also condemned the new law and called for its immediate repeal.

Nepal's King Gyanendra
The law also bars private radio stations from broadcasting news

"These extremely repressive amendments to the press law are a major blow to journalists in Nepal, who have worked tirelessly to preserve their livelihood, from a king who appears determined to destroy the independent press," Ann Cooper, the executive director of CPJ said.

Dozens of journalists were arrested and a number of newspapers ceased publications temporarily after king Gyanendra seized power in February this year and imposed nationwide emergency.

Though the emergency was lifted after three months, groups fighting for press freedom say a number of restrictions on media are still in place in the country.


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