Somalilandsun- The Somaliland election commission, political party officials , administration and local journalists are pursuing a draft media code of conduct for presidential elections reporting.
This code of conduct (CoC)applies to all independent and state-owned media throughout the presidential election period of 2017. It covers the period before,during and after elections. Media code of conduct will take off immediately after it has been signed.
This CoC,,sets out the general principles to help journalists adhere to the highest professional standards and perform their duty ,which is to give the public the information it needs to participate in the elections.
In order to fulfill its role in Edna ,as a guardian of the nation ,urges the electoral commission authorities to give journalists unhindered access and respect to ensure the transparency of the electoral process.
In return the media pledges to treat all political party information with impartiality and expects the state to publish its information in both public and private media.
The government should treat official and private media even -handedly ,guided by the primary importance of the republic’s right to know.
RESPONSIBILITY OF THE MEDIA BEFORE AND DURING ELECTION DAY:
The Somaliland media will adopt the following code of conduct for the PRE-ELECTION, ELECTION AND POST-ELECTION PERIOD.
The media promises:
1. To cover the election campaigns, the election and post-election period in a fair ,balanced and impartial manner.
2. To ensure accurate ,balanced and impartial coverage of the news and current affairs and in the content of interviews and debates that may have an influence on the attitude of voters.
3. To avoid excessive and privileged coverages candidates from both the ruling and opposition parties.
4. Not to disseminate any partisan electoral messages on the day preceding voting ,to allow voters to take a decision without pressures.
5. As far as possible, to report the views of candidates and political parties directly and in their own words ,rather than it being several director as others describe them if does not contain any harmful or hatred speech.
6. To guarantee a rapid right to reply to a candidate or political party, if so required, in order that this right can be exercised during the campaign period.
7. To ensure that news content is factually accurate, complete ,relevant and in context.
8. To use neutral words for impartial, dispassionate election reporting and take care with technical terms and statistics and ensure headlines reflect the facts of the story.
9. To avoid inflaming emotions over controversial issues through impassioned handling of these issues.
10. To label opinions and personal interpretations as such, and limit opinions and editorials to the editorial and opinion pages/programmes.
11. To label advertising clearly so it is not confused with the news and to ensure that advertising coverage complies with the code of conduct for political parties adopted by the media and NEC.
12. Journalists are obligated to introduce themselves as such and to be honest and fair in the way news is gathered, reported and presented.
13. To honour pledges of confidentiality to a news source, otherwise identity sources of information.
14. Not to alter photographs or graphics to mislead the public.
Not to accept any inducement from a politician or candidate.
Responsibility of the State-owned Media.
1. State-owned media such as Radio Hargeisa ,Somaliland National Tv and government news papers should be impartial to all political parties and it must provide equal platform and time to all parties during campaign period.
2. National electoral commission is collaboration with ministry of information and political parties will device a plan to set the commencement of the political campaigns. This plan is an integral part of the code of conduct.
Oversight committee will be supervising all materials that will be broadcasted from Radio Hargeisa ,national TV and government newspapers and independent media to ensure impartial and balanced programmes towards all parties and report to National Electoral Commission.
The bone of contention was the proposed MEDIA CONDUCT OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE : that will be compromised of seven members ,who will be intellectuals from Somaliland as follows:
a. Two representatives to nominated by Somaliland Journalists Association (SOLJA)
b. Two representatives be nominated by ministry of information.
c. One representatives from the women in Journalism Association (WIJA)
d. Two representatives to be nominated by the National Electoral Commission from the lawyers and intellectuals of the country..
The contention expressed by most was the absence of Representatives of the Opposition political parties since the ruling Kulmiye was seen as being part and parcel of the administration thence fully represented
While NEC has multiple donors mostly from those in the international and local community with a stake in the Somaliland democratization process, This whole process and subsequent approval plus implementation of this media CoC is solely the electoral body’s function.