EC guidelines ‘anti press’

Manzur H Maswood | Published: 00:00, Dec 25,2018


The guidelines issued by the Election Commission for the coverage of the general election were widely described as ‘anti press.
In the guidelines, the EC for the first time imposed ban on journalists using motorcycles for the coverage of the polling.
The EC also banned live broadcast from polling centres.
It also banned live polls related news feed providing to social media.
The guidelines prohibit more than on journalist from entering a polling centre at a time and taking photos or capturing video footage of happenings inside polling centres without prior permission from the presiding officer.
Good governance campaigners, Sultana Kamal, Badiul Alam Majumber, Iftekharuzzaman and DRU president Elias Hossain described the guidelines as ‘anti press and obstructive for polls coverage.’
They told New Age that they could not understand the EC’s intention behind issuing such ‘unprecedented guidelines for the coverage of a general election.’
They said that in the guidelines the EC imposed a series of restrictions on the coverage of the general election to hide the developments surrounding polling across the nation to keep the people in darkness.
They said that the EC’s action tantamount to deprive the people and the voters of their right to information.
The EC warned that steps would be taken under the election law, code and the rules against journalists or their organizations for any violation.
Supreme Court lawyer and good governance campaigner Sultana Kamal said that it was beyond her comprehension why the EC issued such guidelines.
She said that slapping restrictions on journalists was uncalled for as journalists never obstructed holding fair elections.
‘These are illogical and unprecedented restrictions,’ she said.
Sushashaner Jonno Nagorik secretary Badiul Alam Majumder said the guidelines for journalists were against the concept of fair elections.
‘These are no doubt anti-press guidelines’, he said, adding, the guideline would create obstacles for journalist to cover the votes accurately.
He urged the EC to review the guideline and issue a pro-press guideline.
Transparency International Bangladesh executive director Iftekharuzzaman said the restrictions on the media are unprecedented and unjustifiable.
‘These will prevent the media, especially the reporters of print, TV and online media, to discharge their professional duties in public interest timely and efficiently,’ he said.
‘At the same time these will impose severe restrictions on people’s right to know and free flow of information,’ he added.
Iftekharuzzaman said people failed to understand why the EC needs to impose such regressive guidelines.
‘It is not at all clear what the EC is planning to hide from the public,’ he said.
He said question may be raised if the purpose is to restrict free flow of information about the EC’s failure to hold free and fair election or perhaps to protect and promote irregularities to be committed by vested quarters.
Dhaka Reporters Unity president Elias Hossain said the guidelines would not smoothen the work of journalists rather they would create obstacles on the way of their professional duties.
He said the restrictions created doubts about the EC’s intentions.

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