Protection of sources

Press freedom in Belgium is protected by the kingdom’s 1831 constitution. A distinguishing feature of the media landscape is a clear division into two linguistic groups, Flemish and Walloons, who each have their own public broadcasters. There are also a few German-speaking municipalities. Media ownership is very concentrated, with a handful of businessmen owning most of the newspapers. The 2005 law on journalists’ right to the confidentiality of sources is one of the most protective in the world. Very strict conditions must be met for the authorities to be able to override this right. Only an investigating judge can give the order, and only when a person’s physical safety is at stake and the required information cannot be obtained in any other way. In practice, the law is sometimes flouted. Recent examples include the 2016 seizure of a VRT journalist’s smartphone by police, who accessed its contents. A bill proposed by the justice minister in 2017 alarmed journalists because it aimed to undermine the confidentiality of their sources in certain circumstances.

in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index



9 in 2017

Global score


12.75 in 2017

  • 0
    journalists killed in 2019
  • 0
    citizens journalists killed in 2019
  • 0
    media assistants killed in 2019
Go to the barometre