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3 Aug, 2018 10:34

Belgium disrespects laws on information access – European Federation of Journalists chief to RT

Belgium disrespects laws on information access – European Federation of Journalists chief to RT

The head of the largest journalist organization in Europe told RT that Belgium doesn’t respect the basic rules on access to information, blasting nation’s decision to charge the press with ‘security fees’ at the EU events.

The Benelux country is under fire for wanting to force local journalists and reporters into paying €50 ($ 60) every six months for mandatory security screenings if they wish to cover the EU summits. The move was widely blasted by the media organizations as “discriminatory,” and denounced by the European Commission.

“Belgium is not respecting the standard laws with regards to access to information,” Ricardo Gutierrez, the general secretary of the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) told RT. “Access to information is a fundamental right in Europe. The decision [to charge the media with security fees] goes against it.”

About 1,000 Belgian journalists would be affected by the new measure. The Belgian government agency, responsible for the security screening, told Reuters that all complaints will be considered, and the new rules, if necessary, will be “adjusted” in the future.

“It is the duty of the state to ensure security. What we don’t understand is why we should pay for it as journalists?” Gutierrez argued. He labeled the move a clear “mistake,” but says he hopes it will be eventually corrected.

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