We condemn the reports of Reporters Without Borders, or Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF), an international non-profit, non-governmental organisation that claims to promote and defend freedom of information and freedom of the press.
In Bhutan’s experience, RSF has repeatedly failed to reflect the true picture of freedom of press in the country. We are convinced, by the numerous reports that have unfolded from RSF, that this organisation doesn’t have the courage to be true to its purpose. It is a pity it should even claim to be what it is.
There may be countries that the reports are true to, of course. But if its analyses are based on interviews that it had with some quasi journalists who aren’t even practising their trade anymore but can only blabber on about issues that elude them, what picture it draws from them is questionable. Journalists’ Association of Bhutan, the face and heart of journalism in the country, has no idea when RSF came to the country, if it ever did, to see where Bhutan’s freedom of press really stands today. And, for that matter, no standing organisation or person of even small credible repute seems to be aware about the organisation.
RSF must, for the picture of press freedom in the country it painted in its latest report, prove when and how many Bhutanese journalists were exiled from the country.
And it talks about self-censorship that Bhutanese media organisations supposedly employ. Yes, the Bhutanese media employ self-censorship because self-censorship is necessary. Cultural and societal ways in Bhutan are just as important as they are not in others. How RSF sees it is disturbing.
Although young, the Bhutanese media have outgrown beyond their age and have been responsible players in the building of the nation’s character. Today, more than ever, Bhutanese media are emboldened and are fiercely critical about the flaws in the system of the governance that often show in the form of corruption.
Media development, seen from the number of media houses that exist today may not be encouraging, but Bhutan’s choice is small but responsible media. When what the media report becomes the subject of national debate in the Parliament, Bhutan’s freedom of press is opposite of what is reflected in RSF reports.
RSF, if it stands for what it is, must at least do so some leg work and honest reporting.