News

February 16, 2018 - Updated on February 19, 2018

Serbia threatens Belgrade-based Belgian reporter with expulsion

Philippe Bertinchamps/ © Dalibor Danilovic
The Serbian interior ministry has rejected a request by Philippe Bertinchamps, a Belgrade-base Belgian correspondent for various French-language media, for a temporary residence permit so that he can continue living with his Serbian family. Instead, he is now threatened with expulsion for posing an “obstacle to public order and national security.” Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the decision and alerts international opinion to his plight, which follows an increase in harassment of journalists in Serbia.

Philippe Bertinchamps, a Belgian journalist based in Belgrade who reports for Le Courrier des Balkans, Mediapart, Libération, RFI, RTBF, Le Soir, La Tribune de Genève and other international French-language media, is currently threatened with expulsion by Serbia’s interior ministry (MUP) on the pretext that he poses an “obstacle to public order and national security.”


No grounds have ever been offered to support this claim. Bertinchamps was previously summoned twice by Serbia’s Security Intelligence Agency (BIA) for “in-depth informative interviews” – the first time in April 2017, shortly after Serbia’s latest presidential election, which he covered.


Given the extremely worrying situation of media freedom in Serbia, where independent journalists are nowadays the targets of physical and verbal violence and even hate campaigns by pro-government media, we believe that this case must, as a matter of urgency, be drawn to the attention of the Serbian, European and international public.


Bertinchamps has been covering Serbia and most the western Balkans for the past ten years, and he has always displayed the utmost impartiality in his reporting. He has never had any run-ins with the police and, until 2017, he had always obtained his residence permits without any problem.


Based in Belgrade since 2007, he is married to a Serbian woman who is a press photographer, and he is the father of a five-year-old girl. His application for a temporary residence permit on preservation of family unity grounds was nonetheless rejected by the MUP in April 2017 and again on 8 January 2018 without any explanation.


A Serbian administration court ruled in his favour in November 2017, agreeing that the authorities should provide grounds for their rejection of his application. The MUP’s two refusals violate not only Serbian procedural regulations but also article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, on respect for private and family life.


As the Serbian authorities pay little heed to court rulings and the interior ministry’s behaviour is unworthy of a country seeking admission to the European Union, and because he also wants to defend his career as a journalist, Bertinchamps has decided not only to file a new complaint with the administrative court but also to refer his situation to the highest European and international authorities.


A press conference will be held on 20 February at Belgrade’s Medija Centar at 2PM


Le Courrier des Balkans

Mediapart

Libération

Reporters sans Frontières

La Tribune de Genève

RTBF- Informations

Radio France Internationale

Le Soir


Philippe Bertinchamps (Filip Bertinšan), dopisnik velikog broja inostranih medija u Srbiji, među kojima su Le Courrier des Balkans, Mediapart, Liberation, RFI, RTBF, Le Soir i La Tribune de Geneve, trenutno trpi pretnje proterivanjem iz Srbije, od strane Ministarstva unutrašnjih poslova (MUP), pod izgovorom da predstavlja «pretnju javnom redu i nacionalnoj sigurnosti». Ova odluka nije ničim motivisana niti opravdana. Philippe Bertinchamps je pre njenog donošenja već bio pozivan od strane Srpske službe za bezbednost (BIA) na «detaljne informativne razgovore», u aprilu 2017, dan posle predsedničkih izbora u Srbiji, o kojima je kao novinar izveštavao.


Imajući u vidu trenutni više nego zabrinjavajući položaj slobode medija u Srbiji, gde nezavisni novinari trpe fizičke i verbalne napade, pa čak i pozive na linčovanja od strane provladinih medija, smatramo da je neophodno obratiti se kako Srpskom, tako i Evropskom i međunarodnom javnom mnjenju.


Philippe Bertinchamps svojim novinarskim radom pokriva Srbiju i većinu zemalja Zapadnog Balkana već punih deset godina u kojima je uvek pokazivao najveći stepen nepristrasnosti. Nikad nije imao problema sa policijom, i do 2017. godine je uvek dobijao dozvolu za boravak u skladu sa propisima.


Kao belgijski državljanin, Philippe Bertinchamps živi u Beogradu od 2007. godine, oženjen je državljankom Srbije koja je takođe novinarka i fotoreporterka, a takođe je i otac petogodišnje devojčice. Odbijen je, bez ikakvog objašnjenja, nakon zahteva za privremeni boravak radi spajanja porodice od strane MUP-a, 8. januara 2018. godine, drugi put od aprila 2017. godine. U novembru 2017. godine je međutim Upravni sud Srbije doneo presudu da vlasti moraju da opravdaju razloge za odbijanje njegovog zahteva. Odluke MUP-a u ovom slučaju krše pravila postupka, ali i član 8. Evropske konvencije o ljudskim pravima o poštovanju privatnog i porodičnog života. Sudbina Philippe Bertinchamps-a i njegove porodice sada u potpunosti zavisi od volje srpskih vlasti.


Imajući u vidu često ignorisanje pravosudnih odluka od strane srpskih vlasti, kako bi se sprečile policijske zloupotrebe koje ne priliče jednoj državi kandidatkinji za evropske integracije, ali i kako bi odbranio svoj posao kao novinar, Philippe Bertinchamps je odlučio da se ponovo žali upravnom sudu, i da se obrati najvišim evropskim i međunarodnim vlastima povodom svoje situacije.


Konferencija za štampu će biti održana 20. februara u Medija centru u Beogradu.


Le Courrier des Balkans

Mediapart

Libération

Reporters sans Frontières

La Tribune de Genève

RTBF- Informations

Radio France Internationale

Le Soir