Parliament Elaborated Rules of Conduct for Media in Legislature
Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili said at a session of the parliamentary bureau on February 6 that taking into account the best experience of parliaments in different countries, the rules of accreditation and conduct for journalists in the Parliament have been elaborated.
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Papuashvili clarified that in order to ensure a working environment for the Parliament and its guests, journalists should observe the following rules:
- Not to disrupt parliamentary proceedings.
- Not to take photographs of a MP’s or staff member’s place of work without prior permission.
- Stop an interview if an MP, staff member or guest objects.
- Not to photograph the documents, the screen of a telephone or any other electronic device belonging to an MP, a staff member or a guest in such a way that information or images on them can be seen.
- Not to treat anyone in the Parliament in a rude, sexist or discriminatory manner.
- Comply with the instructions of security staff and marshals.
- Wear accreditation in a conspicuous place and not pass it on to another person.
Shalva Papuashvili stressed that the movement of journalists would not be restricted, nor would they be given a special place to make comments.
As for accreditation, it will be given to journalists covering parliamentary activities, while the number of accreditations will depend on the type of media outlet. In particular, each public and national broadcaster will be able to accredit seven groups to Parliament; other TV channels – three groups each; online media – four representatives each; radio, newspapers and magazines – two representatives each.
A specific journalist or media outlet, including a foreign one, that is not accredited and needs to visit the Parliament to prepare a story, will receive a one-day accreditation. Media organizations will have to apply for accreditation to the Parliament from 20 February. The new rules for journalists will come into force on 1 March.
Statement of the Charter of Journalistic Ethics
The Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics reacted to the Parliament’s decision by stating that it is unacceptable to adopt the new accreditation rule without consultation with all stakeholders, as well as its enactment right after publication.
The Charter claims that according to the new rule, in certain cases, depending on the “specificity of the event or the security regime,” the Chief of Staff may limit the access of accredited journalists to the Parliament, their movement or the placement of their equipment in certain places. However, the fact that the regulation does not contain any provision on when an event is “specific” or how the security regime is defined, “creates the risk that the Parliament’s staff will define this provision at its own discretion.”
“In case of violation of these and other rules, the journalist’s accreditation may be suspended for one month, and in case of repeated violation – for six months,” the Charter said, stressing that in the situation where it is practically impossible for the media to receive public information and representatives of the ruling party selectively give interviews to the media, such regulations will make it impossible to obtain information and provide it to the public.
The Charter calls on the Speaker of the Parliament “not to allow the principles of democracy, such as accountability, publicity and openness, to be threatened and to abolish the regulation that will create formal obstacles and restrictions on the activities of the media.”
Note: This article was updated on February 7 to reflect the statement of the Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics.
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