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Ministry issues ‘code of conduct’ for media in upcoming elections
October 22, 2016, 5:18 pm

Ministerial Resolution 143/2016, issued by the Minister of Information on Saturday, specifies a 12-point code of behavior for candidates, their supporters and the media in the lead up and during the upcoming parliamentary and municipal election.

The Minister of Information, Minister of State for Youth Affairs, Sheikh Salman Sabah Al-Salem Al-Humoud Al-Sabah issued the Ministerial Resolution setting terms and restrictions for the media coverage and promotion for the impending elections.

Resolution 143/2016 stipulates among others a total ban on ‘primaries’, tit-for-tat mudslinging by candidates, as well as the offering of ‘financial incentives’ to voters, in the days preceding election-day, on the polling date and until the official publication of election results.

First article of the resolution stipulates that it goes into force as of the date of its publication, or the publishing of the decision calling for the parliamentary and the municipal elections, in the official gazette till declaration of the polls' results.

Second article slaps a ban on publishing, broadcasting or re-broadcasting calls for primary elections, involving or promoting such voting, in addition to prohibiting any action that might undermine the “elections' freedom or its system." All audio-visual or electronic media, reads the third provision, are obliged to distinguish between nominees' "news and advertisement, by underlining the latter with such term," says the third article.

Media coverage of the elections must be free of any words, pictures, symbols, written terms or drawings that might be deemed as offensive to the nominees, or others, directly or indirectly, reads the fourth term.

"It is prohibited that the promotion or the coverage of the elections imply financial incentives, either paid or promised with aim of stimulating the voters to cast the vote for a certain candidate or abstain from casting the ballot," says the fifth article of Resolution 143/2016.

The sixth article states that audio-visual and electronic media as well as the press, when publishing or broadcasting opinion polls and statistics, must adhere to the following:

First, they must mention the party that conducted the opinion poll or means of gathering the statistics, number of the polled persons, date and means of assembling the information. Moreover they must be issued by companies that are licensed by relevant State authorities. Second, they are banned from publicizing results of the opinion polls and statistics during the day of balloting or the day before. Third, they are barred from publicizing outcome of the elections, rates or proportions before announcement by the official sources.

The seventh article prohibits broadcasting or re-broadcasting interviews, reports involving the nominees for election of the National Assembly or the Municipal Council — or on their behalf — during the balloting day or the preceding day.

The eighth term bars broadcasting reports, articles or reports about the candidates unless they conform with rules of the Laws 3/06, 16/07 and 08/16. The ninth clause stipulates forming a commission tasked with monitoring the media during the electoral process to ensure adherence to the set rules and laws. The panel is entitled to receive complaints and reports and "take proper measures in this respect."

The 10th article reads that in cases where terms of this Resolution have been breached, the rules outlined in the Law 35/62 and its amendments, along with the law 3/06, are to be applied.

The 11th article repeals the Ministerial resolution 78/12. The 12th says the relevant authorities are instructed to implement this decision, each according to the set jurisdictions. The resolution is to be published in the gazette and adhered to by making it effective from the date of publicizing it.


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