Parliament stands by photography ban
The Parliament of Samoa is standing by a move to ban the media from taking photos inside its chambers.
A statement released late Friday evening by the Office of the Legislative Clerk of Parliament confirmed the ban. But it acknowledged the importance of fair and factual reporting of Parliamentary proceedings.
“However, the House Rules set forth by [the] Hon, Speaker facilitates media access and reporting of Parliamentary debates, and to ensure that the Maota Fono Chamber as a working environment for Members and Parliamentary Officials is maintained and respected,” the statement said.
“With respect to members of the media, we have no intention of banning representatives of the media from entering the Chamber.”
This week, former Speaker of the House, Laaulialemalietoa Leuatea Schmidt, questioned why the media was not allowed inside the chambers, and why only TV1 was allowed to take live footage of Parliamentary sessions.
The Parliament has now issued guidelines that reporters and journalists are allowed to be present at the Media Gallery for note-taking only.
“Taking photographs either by camera, mobile phone or any other device is strictly prohibited,” the statement said.
“All camera still photos will be made available to the media at the conclusion of every sitting, either by electronic transfer (usage of individual memory card/USB-drive) or download from the Parliament of Samoa Facebook page.”
Media outlets may also be granted access to Parliament’s live feed by accessing portals provided outside of Parliament.
“The Parliament’s I.T. Unit provides a broadcast service for its Facebook page in which media representatives are also welcome to use.
The new Maota Fono is fully equipped with a modern recording system which provides live coverage of Proceedings and live radio for broadcast on 2AP state-owned radio.
“It is very important to note that similar practice/guidelines [are] observed in other Pacific Parliaments, including the New Zealand House of Representatives and other Commonwealth jurisdictions,” the statement said.
“To conclude, Media Guidelines issued by the Office of the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly are mandated by the Legislative Powers and Privileges Ordinance, 1960 and Standing Order of Parliament 2016.”