Legal loopholes are undermining press freedom in France, report warns

This year’s World Press Freedom index puts France in 21st place out of 180 countries – a slight improvement on 2023. But a report by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) warns that the right to information continues to be threatened by a legislative loophole that gives authorities the power to prosecute journalists for revealing their sources.

By moving up three spots, France ranks among among the countries in a “fairly good situation”, says RSF in its annual index published each year on World Press Freedom Day.

But this progress can be explained by a greater deterioration in other countries, says RSF's Pavol Szalai, in charge of the EU and Balkans regions.

“France remains 14th out of the 27 EU member states, which is not a very good position,” Szalai told RFI pointing to a “mixed record”.

Shortcomings in the French system were highlighted in September last year when French journalist Ariane Lavrilleux was arrested for allegedly compromising defence secrets in revelations over a joint military operation between France and Egypt.

She was held in police custody for 39 hours, searched and forced to reveal her sources, following a complaint from the Ministry of Defence.

The case is still open, and while she has not been indicted, she told RFI she “could be at any time”.

'Vague' law

The Lavrilleux case highlights a paradox in France’s law on press freedom.

Read more on RFI English

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