Namgay Zam, a journalist shared a Facebook post about a local businessman involved in a property dispute. Also, the Facebook post included allegations that the local businessman has earned approval by his son-in-law who is chief justice and the country’s judiciary. This local businessman is called “Sonam Phutsho”, he filed a law suit against Ms. Zam accusing her of libel. Ms. Zam along with the woman who wrote the post “Shacha Wangmo” are facing a maximum fine of about $38,000 or up to three years in prison if convicted.
The Prime Minister of Bhutan is really interested in the case and believes it could shape proposed restrictions on social media usage in Bhutan. The journalists in Bhutan feel unsafe in covering certain type of events as reported by the Journalist Association of Bhutan in 2014. In my opinion, social media is one of the main ways to communicate news nowadays, however with restrictions people will be exposed to filtered information. I do not believe freedom of speech may exist in a country without the freedom of social media. Bhutan may believe social media guidelines are important for protecting the name of the royal family, since many public officials and institutions have ties with the royal family. Bhutan is choosing to keep the sovereignty of the land over giving journalists freedom of speech.
Is Bhutan doing the right thing? Are restrictions on social media usage needed in all countries?