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New Nepal government annuls king's ordinances on media, NGOs

[JURIST] Nepal's government on Tuesday annulled a media ordinance promulgated by King Gyanendra [official profile] during his 15-month absolute rule to muzzle press that criticized his seizure of power [JURIST report] in February 2005. The ordinance was criticized both in Nepal and internationally as it increased punishment of journalists and banned broadcast of informative programs from independent radios. The law also discouraged cross-ownership in the media sector. National and international media rights groups had termed the ordinance as a "black law" and had asked King Gyanendra to repeal it. Nepal's press freedom situation deteriorated after the enforcement of the ordinance and the international community sent two high-level diplomatic missions to Nepal to protect independent media.

The Nepalese government also invalidated another ordinance that curbed the activities of NGOs working in the field of human rights, as well as four other ordinances promulgated by the King that were deemed "regressive." King Gyanendra’s government, which was dismissed amidst a nationwide uprising [JURIST news archive] in April, had promulgated the ordinances allegedly to control media and human rights organizations as they criticized the monarch's 2005 power seizure and subsequent rule. As there was no parliament to enact laws after the power seizure, King Gyanendra ruled the Himalayan Kingdom by promulgating ordinances and royal decrees after he assumed absolute power. He issued a total of 39 ordinances to rule the country.

Kiran Chapagain is a special correspondent for JURIST writing from Nepal. He is an Assistant Senior Reporter for the Kathmandu Post.

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