Question regarding of freedom of Expression

Ramesh Prasad Timalsina


Freedom of expression extends beyond individual voices; it serves as a metric for democracy. Constitutionally enshrined in Nepal’s laws, this right is important pillar of constitutionalism. The Nepali Constitution emphasizes the significance of freedom of speech, safeguarding the expression and opinions of every citizen under Article 17(2). This aligns with Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), both of which Nepal is a signatory to, ensuring the right to hold opinions without interference. Subsection 1 of the aforementioned article guarantees every individual the right to hold opinions without interference.

Citizens have the right to peacefully assemble, protest, and organize without arms, yet instances of state or non-state interference have impeded such activities. In a democratic framework, suppressing voices or stifling diverse opinions contradicts democratic principles. True democracy lies in respecting differing perspectives and engaging in constructive dialogue. Simply labeling a system as democratic is insufficient if actions fail to align with democratic values; adherence to constitutional and legal boundaries is crucial. The Nepal Human Rights Year Book 2024, published by INSEC, reports instances of 505 individuals being deprived of their rights to expression, assembly, and association in 2023.

What is the current status of freedom of speech in Nepal as of 2023?

In 2023, the state of freedom of speech in Nepal was marred by instances of deprivation affecting 505 individuals, as documented by INSEC. Among these, 10 cases occurred in Koshi Province, 13 in Madhesh Province, 462 in Bagmati Province, and 20 in Karnali Province. With Kathmandu being the focal point for protests, strikes, and demonstrations, citizens in Bagmati Province bore the brunt of these restrictions. Notably, all records of violations in Bagmati Province stem from incidents within Kathmandu, where 462 individuals were unable to exercise their rights to expression, assembly, and association.

The monthly status of freedom of expression victims.

The status of freedom of expression victims varied by month, with seven cases in January, four in February, three in March, 12 in April, 77 in June, five in July, 66 in August, 28 in September, four in November, and 299 in December. Notably, no incidents were recorded in May and October, according to the yearbook.

The government’s decision to ban TikTok, citing its alleged role in disrupting social harmony and the environment, was criticized. Despite claims of maintaining social harmony following the ban, no official data substantiating positive outcomes has been released three months’ post-ban. Such actions contradict Nepal’s constitution, international commitments, and the right to free speech.

Incidents of violence against women and children via social media are on the rise, compounded by victims’ limited technological literacy hindering legal recourse. This year, 88 girls and 131 women fell victim to such crimes.

Moreover, according to the provisions of Subsection 3 of Section 6 of the Local Administration Act, 2028, local authorities in Kathmandu and Lalitpur issued orders prohibiting slogans, processions, demonstrations, and gatherings of more than five people in certain public areas, exceeding the prescribed duration in some cases. The provision allows for the issuance of such orders for a period of up to two months at a time, as stipulated in the Local Administration Act. However, despite this provision, the Lalitpur District Administration Office has issued the order for a duration of six months. This restriction, based on the Local Administration Act, infringes upon the constitutionally guaranteed right to assemble and organize freely, as enshrined in Article 17 of the Constitution of Nepal. his action also reflects authoritarian tendencies within a democratic framework.

In a democracy, the value of criticism and constructive feedback cannot be overstated. A democratic government should possess the patience to engage with diverse perspectives and criticisms. Failure to heed varied opinions undermines the democratic essence. Therefore, while Nepal’s political framework may be democratic, its execution may not consistently embody democratic ideals. Mere governance is insufficient; respect for the constitution and adherence to the law are imperative. Laws must not only be observed but also crafted to garner acceptance from all citizens, fostering an environment conducive to compliance. Democratic governance entails more than exercising governmental authority as desired; it requires adherence to established laws and principles. Decision-making based solely on personal preferences is antithetical to democratic governance, conflicting with its fundamental principles and values.


We stood up against tyranny twice, aiming for a free society. Both times, those advocating for freedom won, defeating tyranny. Nepal adopted democracy successfully in 1990 and 2006. However, our understanding of democracy and how we practice it is still developing. As time passed, our leaders gradually became more autocratic, leading to citizens losing their freedom and behaving disruptively. Unchecked leadership pushes citizens towards lawlessness. While freedom should not harm others, disorderly behavior affects society. Negative views are encouraged, while positive ones face challenges. It’s important to address situations where negativity thrives and positivity is hindered through media literacy programs. Relying on social media without media literacy threatens democracy, risking unity, brotherhood, and dialogue, which are vital for democracy’s protection.