Nepalese Information Classification Called Excessive, Illegal

31 January 2012

The government of Nepal has classified as confidential 140 types of information, sparking protests and legal actions.

The classifications by a three-person committee came into force on Jan. 15, without promised consultations, and the scope of the secrecy extends beyond the scope of allowable exemptions contained in the RTI Act Section 3, according to Tanka Aryal, General Secretary of the Citizens’ Campaign for Right to Information, and other supporters of the law.

On Jan. 31 a judge stayed the classifications temporarily. (See report.)

In addition, critics said, the classifications exempt parliament and the judiciary from coverage and will put reports of investigatory commissions off  limits.

Following protests, one media report suggests that Minister for Information and Communications Jaya Prakash Prasad Gupta, who has defended the classifications, is interested in holding talks on the matter.  The Nepal Press Union organized a sit-in protest Jan. 31 concerning the information classification.

Freedom Forum organized a stakeholders’ discussion Jan. 27, as which speakers  “censured the government classification, terming it an attempt to conceal information in the name of protecting information,” according to a Freedom Forum summary of the meeting.

Several petitions against the classification action have been filed with the Supreme Court.

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