Candidates agree on political code of conduct

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Candidates agree on political code of conduct

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — A meeting held yesterday between the political ombudsman and representatives of the Jamaica Labour Party, the People's National Party, the United Independents' Congress and the Jamaica Progressive Party agreed on a COVID-19 code of conduct for the upcoming elections

“In this meeting, with guidance from the 'Covid-19 Protocol for the Conduct of a National Election' published by the Electoral Office of Jamaica and the 'Interim Guidelines for the Conduct of Election Campaign during COVID-19' published by the Ministry of Health and Wellness, we agreed that there have to be changes to the usual campaign practices,” Political Ombudsman Donna Parchment Brown said.

“The increased use of public education of digital messaging and compliance with new health requirements was emphasised.”

The agreement will mitigate the health risks to voters and the general challenges and constraints in conducting an election during this time.

The agreement is as follows:

Agreement and declaration on political conduct (Code)

The parties agree that their candidates will be held accountable for breaches of laws, codes and protocols. Vote buying, damaging other candidates' campaign materials and violence were highlighted.

The political parties have all agreed to uphold the provisions of the Code of Political Conduct and that the custodes will be asked to witness the signing by all candidates as soon as possible after Nomination Day at a location to be arranged in each parish.

Campaigning

Candidates and campaign organisers must ensure that the provisions of the Disaster Risk Management Act (Enforcement Measures) are observed. Social distancing, the wearing of masks, sanitisation and the limitation on public gatherings will be enforced. Walkabouts and door-to-door campaigning should have groups of no more than five people, with each group acting as a unit. There should be no mixing of these groups and they are to remain six feet away from each other.

If a campaign group intends to enter a home, no more than two people within the group are to enter the dwelling. These two people are not to remain within this dwelling longer than 15 minutes.

Digital communication

Digital communication will replace much of the usual large meetings. The parties agree to hold their candidates to the standards in the code in the use of social media. They condemn posts which are defamatory, incite violence or are malicious.

Nomination Day

To prevent large gatherings and to ensure the safety of all people, it was agreed that only two people per polling division may be invited to join the candidates on Nomination Day.

Election Day

It was reiterated that polling stations will remain open until all people at the polling stations have voted and every effort will be made to enable access to the polls by all electors, including those in quarantined communities.


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