Fundamental Rights and Freedoms Not Absolute: Hon. Peter Shanel on Suspension of Facebook

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    Hon. Minister for Ministry of Communication and Aviation, Peter Shanel Agovaka during the press conference on suspension of facebook

    BY ALEX DADAMU

    Since the Cabinet deliberated to temporarily suspend the access to Facebook, there has been a lot of commentary and publication in Facebook on the decision of Cabinet to suspend access to Facebook.

    The Hon. Minister for Communication and Aviation, Hon. Peter Shanel Agovaka since the initial government decision to temporary suspend access to Facebook three weeks ago on 12th November 2020 has today 2nd December 2, 2020 come out publicly to defend the decision.

    Hon. Minister Peter Shanel in a press conference today on the temporarily suspension of Facebook, started off by clarifying that despite the country’s Constitution amongst other fundamental rights and freedoms has provided that each and every person in Solomon Islands shall be provided with freedom of conscience and freedom of speech, they are not absolute.

    Our fundamental rights and freedoms have conditions or qualifications attached to it and they are prescribed by the Constitution. They are not absolute. Let me repeat our fundamental rights and freedoms are not absolute.

    The Constitution, whilst recognizing that each person possesses the freedom to express themselves, also provides that this freedom must not be used to, amongst others, defame another person, incite violence, hatred, dislike or discontent against others. It also requires that persons making any statement or exercising that freedom ensure that what they say is the truth,” Hon. Minister Peter Shanel said.

    He revealed that the Government has always held the position that the unregulated use of Facebook in the Solomon Islands is a potential threat to public security, public safety, public morality and is also a multiplier in the decaying of societal values.

    Unregulated use of social media in Solomon Islands has perpetuated an increased in the use of abusive and/or disrespectful languages, inflammatory ethnic slurs by its users, racism, threats and inciting of violence against citizens of this Country.

    Hon. Minister Peter Shanel in the meantime said having seriously considered that there is no accountability whatsoever by users on Facebook in Solomon Islands the Government has now decided to temporarily suspend access to Facebook in the Country while policy and lawmakers explore ways to regulate its use so that individuals can be held accountable for what they say in the social media platform.

    This will also ensure that those who administer pages are also accountable for the comments and postings of others on their forums or chat groups,” the Hon. Minister for Communication and Aviation, Peter Shanel said.