Social media: While some of the anonymous posts and accounts on social media are interesting to read, Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said that people should learn to discount the comments from anonymous sources.

Citing the example of JigsNews, a social media account, Lyonchoen said that most of the serious allegations come from anonymous accounts. However, by and large, most of the anonymous accounts are for entertainment purpose.

“Personally, I think anonymous posts are unnecessary. Should the government do something about it? I don’t think so,” said the Prime Minister. “If our country was extremely draconian and we had no freedom of expression, then I would encourage anonymous posts.”

Lyonchoen said that people should be mindful of sedition, libel, defamation and treason while posting from an anonymous account, especially while using a personal account. “This is the way forward. Just because it is Facebook, you cannot defame a person.”

He added that there are laws in place and laws should not just be respected but also be used for the benefit of the people. “According to the law, whether  it is on social media or media in any other form, if a person is defamed, that person can take the other person to court. This is what happened in the recent case.”

The Prime Minister said that while the government had remained silent on the recent case involving Namgay Zam and Ap SP, Bhutanese journalists somehow thought that it was the government who took Namgay Zam to court.

Lyonchoen said that besides stating that the case was a landmark case, the government had no involvement in the case.

The Prime Minister also mentioned the case between DPT and Dasho Benji. He said that had one of the parties not withdrawn the case before the verdict, the court would have ruled on either party’s allegations, which would in a way provide a clearer interpretation and guidance on issues such as defamation.

Meanwhile, Lyonpo Damcho Dorji said that while the Constitution guarantees freedom of expression, freedom is not absolute. Lyonpo said that when one exercises the freedom of expression, other freedoms such as the right to privacy might be compromised.

On the Namgay Zam and Ap SP case, he said that since the case didn’t come to a logical conclusion, there would be several interpretations from the public and that in turn might generate issues of inequality and unjustness.

Younten Tshedup