Last Updated: Friday, 15 December 2017, 16:28 GMT

Reporters Without Borders Annual Report 2002 - Bhutan

Publisher Reporters Without Borders
Publication Date 3 May 2002
Cite as Reporters Without Borders, Reporters Without Borders Annual Report 2002 - Bhutan, 3 May 2002, available at: [accessed 17 December 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Stuck between India and China, this Himalayan kingdom brags that it is a paradisiacal Buddhist theocracy. But, in reality, the king has total power in this country without a constitution, where opponents and media are muzzled.

There is no room for pluralist information in this absolute monarchy. All media are public and are carefully controlled by "Guups", palace representatives. The official weekly Kuensel is published in three languages: English, Dzong-kha and Nepali. The only radio station, Bhutan Broadcasting Service (BBS), broadcasts two daily news bulletins in these four languages. Since 1999, television and the Internet have made a prudent appearance in Bhutan. The public television channel broadcasts a daily news report in two languages, but only covers the capital Thimphu. The only Internet access provider, Druknet, is above all reserved for administrations and a few privileged people. Nevertheless, the weekly Kuensel does have an English-language Web site. All these media are directly controlled by the Ministry of Communication. An officer of the Bhutanese Royal Army manages the information branch of BBS, whose two directors are named by the Royal Civil Service Commission. One former BBS journalist, currently living in exile, stated that many subjects are sensitive: corruption, border disputes, democratic claims, abuses of power, and, especially, refugees. More than one third of Bhutan's population (mostly members of the Lhotshampkha minority) has been forced into exile in Nepal. In addition to the many restrictions imposed by the royal authority, at least three journalists were fired from official media in the past ten years.

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