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'Ensure human rights on cyberspace'


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2023 May 02, 18:53, Kathmandu

In the wake of the release of national cyber security policy draft by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, seeking feedback from the stakeholders, voices have been raised whether the provisions in the draft policy ensure human rights on cyberspace.

In a discussion organized by the Centre for Democracy and Development in the federal capital recently, the speakers stressed the need for adequate mention for the protection and promotion of free expression and individual privacy in the policy.

Chairman of the Federation of Nepali Journalists, Bipul Pokharel, viewed it is necessary to ensure citizen's right to access internet; and internet space should be safe. The programme is relevant because it helps debate issues around freedom of expression. FNJ would also study the draft of the national cyber policy and make necessary recommendation. "Any measure taken on cyberspace to shrink and curtail free speech can not be compromised," he stressed, urging the government to make policy making participatory.

Similarly, General Secretary of Nepal Press Union, Dilip Paudel, said his organization was ready to collaborate on this issue because citizen's rights on cyberspace bear significance at present.

Chairman of Film Journalists' Association, Samir Balami, viewed Youtubers were emerging vibrantly in Nepali of late. How can their rights be ensured on cyber is equally important issue.

Moreover, Vice Chairperson of Press Chautari Nepal, Devika Magar, said as the cyberspace is new topic and many people are unaware about it, the policy and decision making on it should be inclusive to address citizen's rights.

Policy implementation mechanisms should have multi-stakeholders' involvement and engagement, journalist Krishna Sapkota said, adding that cost analyses of policy is required so that implementation would be effective.

Journalist Narayan Ghimire viewed freedom of expression and privacy issues can not be jeopardized on cyberspace while dealing with cyber safety.

On the occasion, CDD Vice Chairman Sanjeeb Ghimire and General Secretary Jivan Bhandari made presentation on the issues mentioned in the draft policy on national cyber policy. They brought to light that though the policy was comparatively better, it must be studied and debated well before approval. "In the wake of growing human activities on cyberspace, their safety and freedoms should not be compromised," Vice Chairman Ghimire said, stressing that it is right time to discuss thoroughly on the draft policy to make it human rights friendly.

CDD Secretary Sanil Nepal informed that the organization was established to foster debate on various elements of democracy and development initiatives, thereby contributing to inclusive and participatory policy making in Nepal. Cyber security and digital freedoms are challenging issues at present in Nepal, he argued.

Also speaking on the occasion were Chairman of Indigenous Journalists' Association, Gajurdhan Rai; General Secretary of Online TV Journalists' Association, Paban Phuyal, and others.

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Democracy cyber security Ministry of Communications and Information Technology Federation of Nepali Journalists
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