Tougher politics, more press freedom violations
In 2020, the coronavirus crisis and accompanying lockdown resulted in an alarming increase in police and civilian violence against reporters. Many journalists, bloggers and cartoonists were also arrested and prosecuted for their reporting on the pandemic and its impact on society. To this end, the government now has a tailor-made judicial weapon for silencing troublesome journalists – the 2018 digital security law, under which “negative propaganda” is punishable by up to 14 years in prison. As a result, self-censorship has reached unprecedented levels because editors are justifiably reluctant to risk imprisonment or their media outlet’s closure. Since their reelection in 2019, the ruling Awami League and its boss, Sheikh Hasina, the country’s prime minister since 2009, have taken a markedly tougher line with the media. Journalists have been subjected to violence by party activists, they have been arrested arbitrarily, and news sites have been blocked. Symbolising the new atmosphere of mistrust, reporters for the two leading dailies, the Bangla-language Prothom Alo and the English-language Daily Star, are not allowed to attend government press conferences. Reporters who investigate corruption or local criminal gangs are liable to be subjected to extremely barbaric violence that ranges from torture to death.
151 in 2020
49.37 in 2020