Nepal blocks 25,000 websites in pornography crackdown

Those who continue to access pornography face up to a year in jail. (Shutterstock/File)
Updated 14 October 2018
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Nepal blocks 25,000 websites in pornography crackdown

  • The government issued new criminal and civil codes this year that include regulations against the use, broadcast and publication of pornography
  • Media rights groups have expressed concern at the blanket ban of website

KATMANDU, Nepal: Nepalese Internet providers have begun blocking thousands of pornographic websites as part of a government directive aimed at stopping sexual violence, officials said Sunday.:
The government issued new criminal and civil codes this year that include regulations against the use, broadcast and publication of pornographic materials with punishment for violators of up to one year in prison.
Min Prasad Aryal of the Nepal Telecom Authority said Sunday that more than 25,000 websites have been blocked under the campaign.
“This is only the start, but a very good start,” Aryal said, adding that a team of officials are monitoring Internet service providers to ensure the order is followed.
He said those providers who refuse or fail to comply face a fine of up to $4,200 and risk losing their operating license.
Internet service providers say they are complying with the government order but say it would be impossible to weed out and block all such sites.
“We are following the government order and have blocked the list of websites that was provided. However, it is not practical and technically not possible to block every pornographic website,” said Binay Bohra of Vianet Communications.
Bohra said they feared that with the new law service providers could easily be punished.
Media rights groups have also expressed concern at the blanket ban of websites.
“This opens up the path for the government to block any websites in the future, saying they have obscene content. This order was issued without clarifying what is obscene and why or without doing any proper study,” said Taranath Dahal, who heads the Freedom Forum, a Nepal-based media rights group.
Dahal said there should be clear regulations from the government on what content is considered obscene and pornographic and what aged users should be barred.
The government issued a similar ban in 2011, but this time there are more serious punishments for violations.


Journalist murder marks upsurge in N. Ireland unrest

Journalist Lyra McKee poses for a portrait outside the Sunflower Pub on Union Street in Belfast, Northern Ireland May 19, 2017. (REUTERS)
Updated 22 April 2019
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Journalist murder marks upsurge in N. Ireland unrest

  • McKee, 29, was shot in the head late Thursday by, police believe, dissident republicans linked to the New IRA paramilitary group as they clashed with police in Northern Ireland’s second city

DUBLIN: The killing of a journalist in Londonderry marks the latest upsurge of violence in Northern Ireland — where fears are growing that a fragile and hard-won peace is increasingly at risk.
Lyra McKee, 29, was shot dead during a riot as dissident republicans clashed Thursday with police in the province’s second city — a historic flashpoint in the three decades of violence known as “The Troubles.”
The 1998 Good Friday Agreement largely ended the turbulence in Northern Ireland — mandating a withdrawal of British security forces and the disarming of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) paramilitary group.
But dissident republicans — seeking Northern Ireland’s departure from the United Kingdom and integration into the Republic of Ireland through violent means — remain active.
Police believe the New IRA splinter group is behind McKee’s murder.

Among commentators there is a wide-held belief that the perpetrators are youngsters not old enough to remember “The Troubles,” and are being manipulated by a radical older element.
“There’s a dangerous radicalization of young people in Derry by those linked to and on the periphery of the New IRA,” wrote The Irish Times newspaper’s security correspondent Allison Morris.
Police Service of Northern Ireland detective superintendent Jason Murphy, who is leading the probe into McKee’s death, warned: “What we’re seeing is a new breed of terrorist coming through the ranks.”
Two men aged 18 and 19 were arrested Thursday but later released without charges.
Police appealed again to the community for help in finding the killer.
“I know there will be some people who know what happened but are scared to come forward but if you have information, no matter how small, please contact detectives,” said Murphy, stressing that the information would be treated as “100 percent anonymous.”

McKee’s murder follows a car bomb in Londonderry in January and a spate of letter bombs sent to British targets in March — both claimed by the New IRA.
There is speculation that Brexit — which has raised the spectre of a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland — is acting as an irritant to dissident republicans.
Proposed divorce deals with the EU could see Northern Ireland more closely aligned to the Republic of Ireland or bound tighter in union with mainland Britain — raising competing loyalist and republican visions of the future.
Kieran McConaghy, a lecturer in terrorism at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, said it was “hard to say” whether Brexit has played a “major role” in recent attacks, as such events have been consistent since the cease-fire.
Since the British government began publishing security assessments in 2010, the threat of terrorism in Northern Ireland has remained at “severe” — denoting that an attack is considered “highly likely.”
However, “Brexit hasn’t been good for stability in Northern Ireland,” McConaghy told CBC.
“It has made people more uncomfortable with the peace process in Northern Ireland, which is seen to be faltering at present.
“Politicians would do well to try and clarify some of the uncertainty... so that organizations like the New IRA and others don’t fill that political vacuum.”
There are particular fears that a no-deal hard Brexit would see checks erected along the 500-kilometer (310-mile) border, which would offer dissident militants a natural target.

Following McKee’s murder, police in the republican area of Londonderry where McKee was killed say they have experienced a “sea change” in previously-strained community attitudes toward officers.
The Free Derry Corner landmark wall has been repainted to reflect the local community’s revulsion.
Underneath the sign “You are now entering free Derry,” marking the start of a republican area, a message now reads: “Not in our name. R. I. P. Lyra.”
In the wake of her murder, Northern Ireland’s six main political parties — including rival unionists and republicans who have been unable to form a devolved government for more than two years — issued a rare joint statement.
“It was a pointless and futile act to destroy the progress made over the last 20 years, which has the overwhelming support of people everywhere,” it read.