Is sharing of the Photographs of Suspects in Social Media by Royal Bhutan Police Legal?

Many a time the Royal Bhutan Police HQs Thimphu’s Facebook Page has been sharing the photographs of those individuals caught in the crime. I applaud the Police team involved in the fight against the rising crime in the country. Your work requires gallantry and sacrifices. Bhutan is safer than ever before and I acknowledge your contributions towards our social security. However, I have been wondering whether your act of sharing the photographs of suspects in the Social Media (Through your Facebook page) is legally acceptable or not. I maybe too naïve to see it as an act of the abuse of police authority or simply a lack of cognizant about the consequences of your actions on the suspects and those individuals associated with them.

Yes, crime must be stopped and criminals must be punished but not through abuse of power and authority (In this regard, sharing their images in the social media and virtually soliciting public humiliation of the suspects and their family members without respecting their fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan). Due course of law must be followed and Royal Bhutan Police must be a model for others to follow. If RPB as a law enforcement agency continues to share the images of their suspects in the social media without even a pinch of hesitation about its adverse impact on the suspects and their family members, other social media miscreants would not hesitate to share even most private images of our fellow Bhutanese citizens. This is a very unethical and disturbing precedence and the Royal Bhutan Police must rethink about this act. I know, many of my readers would pounce at me and accuse me of defending the criminals and their actions, but you must know criminals are human beings and they deserved to be punished by Laws of the Kingdom not by the Law enforcement Agency. We must have a standard way of punishing the criminals.

What is the reason for disclosing the identities of some suspects while others are kept very secret, and sometimes forget about their images, even their names are kept very elusive. You know, all criminals will have to one way or another lead a normal life after their prison terms. It will have a lot of negative implications on their life, and the social re-integration phase will be a very difficult one for them. This may aggravate them to commit further crimes. What about their families? Social stigma and Scelerophobia would be generated and their very existence in the society will be very challenging. This will cause social-disharmony.

In case if you are sharing a photograph of a wanted suspect in your Facebook page, that is totally understandable. You are asking for public cooperation in the fight against the crime. This will be acknowledged and public cooperation will be extended. This, I believe is completely legal. But you have the suspects in your custody and they will be charged sheeted and referred to the court for prosecution, and yet you share their images and defame them and their families.

This is a ludicrous move. Remember, until they are charged guilty by the court, they are deemed innocent. Hence, you do not have the right to convict them before they are even prosecuted for their crime. If you really want to share the stories about crimes and the heroic crime busts by the Royal Bhutan Police, at least blur the images of the suspects. Give the account of the incidence. I guess that is more than enough because the crimes and suspects will be punished by the laws of the Kingdom of Bhutan. I hope, RBP will take heed of my concern and do the necessary hereafter. Having said this, I do have immense respect for those men in uniforms who sacrifice their freedom to keep Bhutan safe. We cannot undermine the RBP for those few individuals who show such negligence and stupidity in sharing the images of the suspects using the RBP Facebook Page.


Sonam Zangmo    

Bhutanese News & Forums

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