Serbia drops request for expulsion of Belgian reporter

A Belgian journalist who had been denied a residence permit in Serbia was finally allowed to remain after international organizations intervened. The fact that he was initially denied a permit on political grounds did not escape notice.

Lidija Pisker
Lidija Pisker NewsMavens, Balkans
Serbia drops request for expulsion of Belgian reporter - NewsMavens
Pen and paper. Wikicommons.

Why this story matters:

Philippe Bertinchamps suspects his critical stance towards the Serbian government is the true reason he was threatened by the Ministry of the Interior.

Taken individually, the event can appear like a minor glitch on the fringes of Europe, but it isn't. It is part of a wave of intimidation towards journalists that is being seen throughout the entire continent.

An Italian mafia affiliate attacked a journalist in front of the camera in November last year. 

Four months ago, Maltese investigative reporter Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed, most probably because of exposing corruption and organized crime in her home country Malta. 

And this week, Slovak investigative journalist Ján Kuciak was found murdered, also because of a fraud investigation.

The ways journalists are being harassed take many forms -- from demands of expulsions to psychological and physical intimidation, to direct threats and murders. But ultimately, they're all attempts at silencing the truth, and the way to fight back is to keep writing.

media, scandal, human rights

Details from the story:

  • Philippe Bertinchamps has lived in and reported from Serbia as a correspondent for French-speaking media for ten years.
  • He was threatened with expulsion from Serbia when the Interior Ministry denied his temporary residence permit request due to “obstacles to public order and national security”. 
  • Bertinchamps, who reportedly had not had any problems with the police nor a criminal record, told media he believes the reason why he was no longer welcome in Serbia was his “critical writing about the situation in the country”. 
  • Reporters Without Borders condemned such a move of Serbian authorities and expressed concerns about an increase in intimidation of journalists in Serbia.
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