31 May 2002


Two journalists fined for refusing to reveal their sources

Incident details

Douglas De Coninck, Marc Vandermeir



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(RSF/IFEX) - On 29 May 2002, a Brussels court ordered Douglas de Coninck and Marc Vendermeir, two reporters from the Belgian daily newspaper "De Morgen", to pay 25 euros (approx. US$23.50) per hour for every hour that they continue to refuse to reveal their sources for an 11 May article which reported that Belgian State Railways had overshot its budget to build a new high-speed train (TGV) station in Liège by 250 million euros (approx. US$234.3 million).

"The court has flouted the right not to reveal journalistic sources with astonishing impudence. The pressure that is being brought to bear against these journalists is intolerable," said RSF Secretary-General Robert Ménard in a 30 May letter to Belgian Justice Minister Marc Verwilghen. "We remind you that confidentiality of journalists' sources is one of the key principles of press freedom and that democratic countries respect this right. We also remind you that the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights monitor whether member-states respect it. We urge you to ensure it is not infringed upon in Belgium," Ménard added.

On 25 June, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is due to consider another violation of confidentiality of sources, dating from 1995, based on a complaint by the Belgian General Association of Professional Journalists (AGJPB). The Strasbourg-based court frequently condemns countries for not respecting the right to confidentiality of sources.


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