Belgium has climbed two places in comparison with last year.
Although freedom of press is not 100% guaranteed, there’s good news for Belgium. Reporters Without Borders published its annual World press freedom index yesterday, and Belgium seems to be in good standing in the world.
It moved from 9th to 7th from 2017 to 2018. The rank is of course led by the Nordic countries, with Norway (1st), Sweden (2nd), the Netherlands (3rd) and Finland (4th). Jamaica is the only non-European country which is ranked before Belgium, as this Caribbean country got the 6th position.
In the national report, RSF, is actually satisfied with the legal framework which allows the journalists to do their job properly. A 2005 law on protection of sources is indeed “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”, the report added. It, however, points out that compliance in practise with that law is sometimes relatively affected.
The weak point of Belgium lies within diversity. “Media ownership is very concentrated, with a handful of businessmen owning most of the newspapers”, RSF finds.
In any case, Belgium is currently part of the best European countries. But freedom of press can quickly go down, as you might have noticed with the murders of journalists in Malta or Slovakia over the past months. Although you may sometimes disagree with news or journalists, protection of journalism is of major importance in democracies.