Belgium

Belgium

In retreat

Press freedom and the situation of journalists are worsening in Belgium, which has fallen sharply in the World Press Freedom Index. Journalists were alarmed by a government directive on the relationship between the judicial system and media, under which a judge can vet a media outlet’s work before publication, and decide what the Belgian public can or can not see. This is in direct violation of the constitution, which says “the press is free” and “censorship can never be introduced.” The outcry in response to this restriction on the freedom to inform was fueled by the fact that it followed the brief arbitrary arrest of journalists from the state-owned French-language radio and TV broadcaster RTBF in June 2018, in connection with their reporting on a camp for migrants. Meanwhile, as well as censhorship, journalists have been complaining about a lack of funding in recent months. RTBF employees went on strike on 23 February 2019 in protest against personnel cutbacks, while the Association of Belgian Journalists passed a resolution in support of the French-language media group L'Avenir, which has announced a restructuring plan in which 45 employees are to be laid off. The TV channel RTL TVI Belgique, which has laid off a fifth of its employees since 2017, suspended political commentator Emmanuelle Praet in November 2018 after she criticized the “Yellow Vest” protest movement on the air. Prime Minister Charles Michel later expressed his support for her.

9
in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index

Ranking

-2

7 in 2018

Global score

-1.09

13.16 in 2018

  • 0
    journalists killed in 2019
  • 0
    citizens journalists killed in 2019
  • 0
    media assistants killed in 2019
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