Freedom Forum says Jhankri’s arrest signals escalating restrictions in Nepal

This statement was originally published on freedomforum.org.np on 11 February 2021.

A noted woman leader of the Nepal Communist Party (NCP), Ram Kumari Jhankri, has been arrested from her residence in the federal capital Kathmandu today (February 11).

According to the police source, a team of police from Metropolitan Crime Division went to Jhankri’s residence with an arrest warrant, mentioning Section 58 of Criminal Code. The police source added that Jhankri was held on allegations of a ‘crime against the state.’

Jhankri, who belongs to the dissenting faction of the ruling NCP, has been speaking vocally against the dissolution of the House of Representative since December 20. The influential youth leader had delivered a speech mentioning President Bidya Devi Bhandari at an event in Gorkha district a week back, in response to which the government is said to have become irate.

Section 58 of the Criminal Code has a provision stipulating that the President and parliament can not be threatened, and barred from works.

The arrest comes as there’s been a series of crackdowns on freedom of expression in Nepal, and the government has suppressed citizens’ right to free speech.

Responding to the incident, Executive Chief at FF, Taranath Dahal, commented, “The government has been increasingly being intolerant in crashing citizens’ right to speak, or their ability to criticise government activities and public persons. The arrest has not only panicked citizens but also alarmed society over the deteriorating state of freedoms in Nepal. The arrest of leader Jhankri based on an unrelated legal provision clearly indicates that the government wants to silence dissenting voices. Her speech neither threatened the President, nor the parliament. This act is a further signal of more horrible days to come and an assault on the democratic system in Nepal.”

If there was any disrespect against the Head of the State in Jhankri’s speech, the government could invoke a separate law, instead of arresting the youth leader under Section 58 of the Criminal Code.

FF vehemently condemns the arrest and urges the security forces to release leader Jhankri unconditionally and respect citizens’ right to free speech.

The post Freedom Forum says Jhankri’s arrest signals escalating restrictions in Nepal appeared first on IFEX.

Source: MEDIA FEED

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Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) is a network of human rights journalists in Uganda working towards enhancing the promotion, protection and respect of human rights through defending and building the capacities of journalists, to effectively exercise their constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms for collective campaigning through the media.

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