With the first nation-wide elections held on 24 March 2008, Bhutan formally stepped into democracy, ending its centuries-old absolute monarchy. There were expectations that with a written constitution being adopted, the right to free speech and the right to information would be widened and that the media would begin growing and functioning as a source of relevant information for larger sections of Bhutan’s estimated 680,000 population
Bhutan adopted a constitution in July 2008 which guarantees free speech as a right for all Bhutanese citizens. Media regulation is entrusted to the Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority (BICMA), which was created by statute in 2008. BICMA has written a journalists’ code of conduct which it has said, should guide media practice in Bhutan.
Article 7 Fundamental Rights
- All persons shall have the right to life, liberty and security of person and shall not be deprived of such rights except in accordance with the due process of law.
- A Bhutanese citizen shall have the right to freedom of speech, opinion and expression.
- A Bhutanese citizen shall have the right to information.
- A Bhutanese citizen shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. No person shall be compelled to belong to another faith by means of coercion or inducement.
- There shall be freedom of the press, radio and television and other forms of dissemination of information, including electronic.