Colombian press are prohibited by law to report on electoral irregularities during this Sunday’s presidential elections, without prior confirmation of the news by an official government source, reported Colombian media on Thursday.
The country’s Interior Ministry passed a decree last Monday stating that Colombian media sources may face prosecution should they, on the day of the election, report cases of public disorder, threats to security or procedural irregularity before the news has been “confirmed” by the State.
News sites will be prohibited from publishing information gathered from Colombian citizens using social networking websites like Twitter and Facebook unless the news has first been mediated by an official entity.
According to the ministry, the measures have been put in place “for the preservation of public order during the presidential election.”
However, the decree has been strongly criticized by Twitter users, who say that it is an infringement of rights to freedom of speech and represents media censorship by the State.
Social networking websites have played a key role in Colombia’s presidential race, with a number of the country’s politicians tweeting regularly in recent months. The latest to gain a voice of the popular website was President Alvaro Uribe himself, who has used Twitter to express his views on some of the proposed policies of presidential candidates. Other regular users include Colombian senator Piedad Cordoba and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
Colombians will go to the polling booths this Sunday to vote in the country’s presidential elections.