No Media at Voting Sites, Committee Says

An official with the National Election Committee said journalists would not be allowed in  poll­ing stations during the Feb­ruary elections, and the NEC is currently deciding whether to allow them to interview people outside.

NEC Secretary-General Im Sous­dey said journalists would interrupt voters and the election process if they were allowed inside the stations. He said the polling booths were only about 15 meters by 15 meters, which would not allow much room for voters, let alone journalists. Im Sousdey made his comments at a three-day conference titled “Management of Conflict for Media in the Election Pro­cess.”

Tive Sarayeth, co-director of the Woman’s Media Center, said television and radio reporters must use cameras and sound equipment, needing both time to set up their equipment and ac­cess to polling stations.

“In the past, reporters were not allowed inside polling stations, and we need to go inside,” she said.

Accredited journalists should be allowed inside polling stations, as long as they follow a code of ethics and conduct themselves properly, said Koul Panha, director of The Committee for Free and Fair Elections.

Koul Panha said Chapter 9 in the election procedure handbook states journalists are allowed inside polling stations, but are not allowed to take pictures of people inside the polling booths, or to interview people inside the polling station. Journalists can observe the election procedure inside the polling stations.

“The public needs to know how the election process is progressing. Journalists should be allowed in the polling booths to monitor and report on the progress,” Koul Panha said.


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