Municipal Elections EC issues instructions for journalists
22 December 2015, Nirapad News: The Election commission (EC) has issued a written instruction to restrict the act of the journalists to cover the upcoming municipal election.
EC Public Relations Department director SM Asaduzzaman sent this direction to the returning officers saying that the journalists would follow the five instructions.
Firstly, journalists cannot enter the booth without the permission of presiding officer; secondly, they will not touch or remove any election kits; thirdly, journalists will be impartial from giving support toward any candidate or political party; fourthly, they will not interfere in any kind of actions of the respective officers and finally, journalists will abide by the constitution, electoral rules and regulations.
However, the EC officers criticized the regulations and opined that for the first instruction, the journalist would not be able to publish the news swiftly if the authorities delayed to give permission.
The credibility and depth of the news on vandalism of election materials or ballot box or paper will be dropped off for the second direction.
In the name of the third instruction the journalist can be netted for partiality as most of the election news naturally supports a party and the fourth direction will deter journalist to write against polling officer or election officer in charge.
Moreover, this direction gives security to dishonest officers.
The fifth instruction directly gave a hint to the possible consequences of violating law. The journalist can face action if any of the directions are not abided by, they added.
EC officers told banglanews that the election commissioners recently observed several polls in other countries and opined journalist do not enter the booths in US and UK elections.
But, due to the free access in the booth during election in Bangladesh the electoral operations have been hampered. Hence, the EC proposed to restrict the access of journalist and issued the restriction.
There was free access of journalists inside the poll centre since the country’s independence.
However, first restriction imposed on April 28 in 2015 during three city corporation elections. Police deterred journalist to enter the polling centre until 11:00am on the day and they also harassed many journalists.
But, the investigation committee, chaired by Dhaka Divisional Commissioner did not find any prove of this matter. It later recommended for limiting access for journalists in the polling stations.
On December 30, the vote will be cast in 234 municipal areas. There are 3,558 poll centers where over 20,000 booths will be installed.
The EC PR division has already called journalists for taking the identity cards for the election.