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Media must be punished severely for breaching Code during elections- Commonwealth

The Commonwealth Mission that observed Guyana’s recently-held general and regional elections wants local media workers punished severely for breaking the Media Code of Conduct, according to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).

The electoral management body reflected on a section of the Observers’ report on the May 11, 2015 elections that recommends that laws be enacted to penalize media workers that break the so far voluntary code of conduct.

“With regard to the functioning of the local media during the elections period, it was recommended that the signed Media Code of Conduct be accompanied by severe punitive measures for offenders, so as to dissuade other potential violators,” GECOM said in a statement following a meeting between its Chairman, Dr Steve Surujbally and the Commonwealth Secretary General, Kamalesh Sharma.

The Commonwealth’s Report on Guyana’s elections, which is yet to be made public, says the state-owned media must provide equitable coverage of all political parties and move away from the temptation to provide unfettered access to one party only.

The Commonwealth Observers were also not in favour of the apparent free-for-all system that allows candidates and Cabinet members to visit polling stations as they see fit. “Further there was the issue of allowing election candidates and cabinet members to enter Polling Stations as Political Party Agents.

This practice the Commonwealth Secretariat recommended should be revised and further clarified, so as to avoid unnecessary confusion among electors on Polling Day,” said GECOM.