Second New Delhi-based French reporter in four months forced to leave India

A French journalist has just become the second New Delhi-based French reporter in four months to be forced to leave India after the authorities refused to renew their work permit, in an alarming signal to all media personnel in India. Foreign journalists must be allowed to work in India, says Reporters Without Borders (RSF), calling for an end to the persecution.

Based as a journalist in India since 2011, Sébastien Farcis reported for the French daily newspaper Libération and the French public radio broadcasters RFI and Radio France. He was forced to return to France on 17 June after the Ministry of Home Affairs refused to renew his permit to work as a journalist without any explanation on 7 March, and his repeated appeals to the ministry were ignored.

Farcis said in a statement that he was deeply shocked by this “incomprehensible censorship” after working as a journalist in India for 13 years. “This is also a family heartbreak,” he added. “I am married to an Indian woman and I have permanent resident status, called Overseas Citizen of India (OCI). This ban therefore drives us out without explanation, and uproots us from one day to the next.”

“Following Vanessa Dougnac in February, the forced departure of a second French journalist after being denied permission to work has again highlighted the persecution of media personnel under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In the light of its previous mandate, foreign correspondents are very clearly being targeted. These two cases will be seen as a warning to all journalists. The persecution must stop. RSF calls on the Indian authorities to guarantee the presence of foreign journalists and their ability to work freely in India.

Célia Mercier
Head of RSF’s South Asia desk

Vanessa Dougnac, a French journalist who had been covering India for 20 years for such French-language media as La CroixLe Soir and Le Point, left on 16 February after been refused a new work permit and threatened with the loss of her OCI residence, According to Farcis, at least five foreign correspondents with OCI status have been banned from working as journalists in the past two years.

In recent years, the Indian authorities have escalated their use of retaliatory measures against foreign correspondents, including denying them access to regions, shortening visas or refusing permits, while at the same time establishing mechanisms for harassing the national media at all levels.

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