By Robert Iroga in Honiara
A legal challenge will be filed in the High Court this week in a bid to block the Solomon Islands government’s decision to temporarily ban Facebook from the country.
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare announced yesterday in Parliament that his government would push ahead with the temporary suspension, citing cyber-bullying, abuse and a threat to national security among his reasons.
He said the suspension would come into force once consultation with stakeholders had been completed.
Sogavare confirmed Facebook would be blocked from Solomon Islands until a law was in place.
But while Sogavare is still planning to shut down Facebook, he faces a legal challenge.
Fresh from hearing the prime minister’s latest statement yesterday, one individual who has already defeated the state in a court battle over Facebook is challenging the Sogavare government’s decision.
Blogger Peterson Boso, 44, who is popular for his posts on Sore Boko, is the frontline man challenging the government.
“Yes my lawyers are putting together our challenge. We will challenge the government on behalf of the people,” Boso told SBM Online today.
“I feel the government is wrong but the only way to prove that is via the High Court.”
Two months ago Boso walked free from court after a judge found that there was no law to govern Facebook in the Solomon Islands to deal with his case.
Boso posted on his Facebook page that Solomon Islands had had its first case of covid-19 at a time when there were no confirmed cases in the country.
The state alleged Boso’s post was in breach of the state of public emergency but it failed to prove this in court.
Now Boso is leading the charge against the government and will challenge what he considers as an unlawful action.
He said the government’s role was to a make law to regulate Facebook users and administrators.
Ban ‘going too far’
“But to ban it now is going too far. We have a Telecommunication Commission that deals with service providers such as Telekom and Bmobile,” he said.
Boso added that there was currently no law and so to suspend or ban Facebook now was unconstitutional.
“The law permits that our rights can be restricted only if prescribed by law. So far there is no applicable law,” he said.
“See, only the court can declare that the government’s decision infringes our rights. And only to extent or degree of infringement the court can declare that government’s decision is inconsistent with the Constitution.”
According to Boso’s lawyers they would be filing a restraining order against the government to stop it from suspending Facebook.
The government decision has been very unpopular and the country’s many Facebook users criticising the government on social media platforms.
Robert Iroga is editor and publisher of Solomon Business Magazine. Articles are republished with permission.