The Office of Media Arbitrator received only four written complaints regarding violation of electoral rules through media so far. The office, however, did not disclose the details of the cases. Compared to past elections, the office says the cases have lessened going by the number of cases received at this stage of the election period.
As mandated by the Media Coverage of Election Rules and Regulations of the Kingdom of Bhutan 2021, the Media Arbitrator monitors all the news, programmes, advertisements, and social media content during the election period.
So far, there have been only a few complaints. Unlike the past elections, the office says the violations were not grave in nature. Besides issuing warning letters, no monetary penalties were imposed.
However, the office is facing challenges in monitoring social media content.
Jigme Wangdi, Media Arbitrator said, “some unknown figures are doing third-party advertisement which is not allowed. Some come online without showing their real identity and make not-so-good comments about a group or a party. Those are the main issues in the social media platform which we are tackling in whatever ways possible.”
He says the office informs individuals who breach the election rules on social media and makes them remove the post. If the individual refuses to act accordingly, the office forwards the case to the Election Commission of Bhutan.
“During the election period, every Bhutanese should be mindful when they use the media platforms. One cannot advertise or promote a candidate or a party. People also cannot defame someone or a party because it will cause damage to a party or a candidate. It is against the election rules,” said the Media Arbitrator.
Meanwhile, there are six officials assisting the Media Arbitrator in the capital, and an additional official in each district tasked with monitoring social media content.
Edited by Sangay Chezom
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