December 6th, 2012 (InsideCostaRica.com) The twitter user @MarvinSchult lodged a complaint in Costa Rica’s Constitutional Court after the Twitter account belonging to the Presidency of Costa Rica – @presidenciacr – temporarily blocked his account after a comment that the user posted, criticizing some of President Laura Chinchilla’s actions.
The ruling, issued by Judge Raul Rueda states that the action taken by the Government violated the citizen’s freedom of speech.
The Supreme Court Judge Fernando Castillo explained the Court’s decision: “This involves an official page, financed with public funds, which uses public resources, as well as public employees, therefore, all citizens are allowed to express their opinions on the ‘wall,’ and just because somebody’s opinion is contrary to one of a public authority, that authority can not eliminate it simply because it doesn’t favor him or her.”
According to the Constitutional Court’s ruling, the President’s department will have to pay for damages caused to Schult.
Schult said, “(The ruling)…is regarding freedom of speech, and information rights, and those are pillars of democracy. The government was managing their social networks with extreme personal sensitivity.”
Schult added that the ruling “sets a precedent (…) they will realize that they have the opportunity and the moral duty of making this a more free and democratic country.”
This is not President Chinchilla’s first incident on social networks. In July, the President “scolded” a user that criticized her on Twitter, and in June she ran off other users critical of her, among them the political analyst Juan Carlos Hidalgo.
Hidalgo said at the time, “The President manages her Twitter account personally, therefore, the fact that she blocks those who criticize her only reveals her low level of tolerance towards different points of view.”
The Minister of Communication, Francisco Chacon, said that he does not know how or when @MarvinSchult was blocked, as the administrators of the Twitter account for Casa Presidencial (Presidential House) stated that they had not blocked the user.
The Minister also asked citizens that are users of the social network and may have also been blocked to report it, so they can be unblocked.
“We are inviting all those who are going through the same problem, of which we are not aware of, to report it to us, so that we can immediately unblock them from the government’s official accounts,” added Chacon.