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Nepal

Court backs protest on information law

Directive that would expand classified information on hold

ucanews.comreporter, Kathmandu

ucanews.comreporter, Kathmandu

Updated: February 02, 2012 10:42 AM GMT
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Court backs protest on information law
Protesters gather in Kathmandu on January 31
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The Supreme Court yesterday upheld a ruling that blocked the government from expanding its ability to declare information classified. The government directive, which was only made public on January 29, would have increased the number of categories of classified information from five to 140. The court’s ruling was based on a petition that argued the directive violated provisions of the Right to Information Act of 2007. Journalists and rights activists protested earlier this week and warned the government to expect more demonstrations if the directive was implemented. Shiva Gaunle, president of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists, urged a group of protesters in front of government offices in Kathmandu to keep up pressure on the government. “The protests will get more and more intense until this unprecedented decision is revoked.” In response to growing public criticism, the government agreed on Tuesday to delay the directive. Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai met with members of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists and said the directive would be revised. Yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling also called for Bhattarai, the minister of communications and the Council of Ministers to attend a hearing on February 5. In a press release dated January 31, the Nepal Press Council said the government directive violates the interim constitution and called on officials to hold wider and more detailed discussions to formulate a new directive that upheld the rights of citizens to information.

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