Tougher politics, more press freedom violations
Bangladeshi journalists have been among the leading collateral victims of the tougher methods adopted by the ruling Awami League and its leader, Sheikh Hasina, the country’s prime minister since 2009. The campaign leading up to her re-election in late 2018 was accompanied by a disturbing increase in press freedom violations, including violence by political activists against reporters in the field, the arbitrary blocking of news websites, and arbitrary arrests of journalists. 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. Ten journalists were attacked and badly beaten by supporters of the Awami League and its student wing, the Chhatra League, while covering municipal elections in Dhaka in early 2020. The government also has a custom-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 reluctant to risk imprisonment or their media outlet’s closure. Radical Islamist militants meanwhile harass and even murder journalists and bloggers who dare to defend an overly secular vision of society.
150 in 2019
50.74 in 2019