Sébastien Farcis
French reporter Sébastien Farcis departed from India on June 17, 2024, after the government refused to renew his journalism permit. (Still from video: TV5Monde)

French journalist Sébastien Farcis leaves India after permit not renewed

June 20, 2024—The Committee to Protect Journalists urges Indian authorities to immediately renew French reporter Sébastien Farcis’ journalism permit and cease using legal technicalities to prevent journalists from carrying out their duties.

Farcis, a New Delhi-based South Asia correspondent for multiple French and Belgian news organizations, including Radio France Internationale, Radio France, and Libération, left India on June 17, after 13 years of reporting, following the government’s refusal to renew a journalism permit to work in the country, according to the journalist, who told CPJ in a text message and a statement he shared on X, formerly Twitter.

The government did not provide a reason for refusing the permit on March 7. Farcis, who is married to an Indian citizen, holds a permanent residency status, known locally as the Overseas Citizenof India (OCI) visa. Since March 2021, Indian regulations have mandated that OCI visa holders must obtain permits to work as journalists in India.

“The departure of Sébastien Farcis highlights the increasing challenges faced by foreign journalists in India. The arbitrary refusal to renew his journalism permit, without explanation, undermines press freedom and disrupts journalists’ lives,” said Kunal Majumder, CPJ’s India representative. “Indian authorities must approve Farcis’ permit and ensure that all journalists can work without fear of unjust reprisal, upholding India’s democratic values.”

In his statement, which he shared with CPJ, Farcis said the permit denial has effectively prevented him from practicing his profession and cut off his income. Multiple requests to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), which issues the journalism permits, have gone unanswered, and attempts to appeal the decision have so far been unsuccessful, he said.

Farcis said in the statement that he has always adhered to regulations, obtaining the necessary visas and accreditations. He said he has never reported from restricted or protected areas without proper permits, and the MHA has previously granted him permission to report from border areas.

“This decision has had a great impact on my family. I am deeply attached to India, which has become my second homeland. But with no more work nor income, my family has been pushed out of India without explanation and uprooted overnight for no apparent reason,” Farcis said in the statement.

Farcis is the second French journalist in four months to leave India under similar circumstances, following Vanessa Dougnac’s departure in February. CPJ is aware that at least five OCI-holder foreign correspondents have been banned from working as journalists in India over the past two years.

CPJ’s email to Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla, who oversees the MHA, requesting comment did not receive a response.

Editor’s note: This report has been corrected to show Farcis’ journalism permit was not renewed, rather than revoked.