Press freedom in Bangladesh lowest in South Asia

Staff Correspondent | Published: 20:30, Apr 18,2019 | Updated: 02:22, Apr 19,2019


Bangladesh has slipped 4 steps in the freedom of press index and become the lowest among the South Asian countries in the ranking.
The country has been ranked at 150th place among 180 countries in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index, compiled by Reporters Sans Frontiers.
The index was released on Thursday.
Bangladeshi journalists have been among the leading collateral victims of the tough methods adopted by the ruling Awami League on its way to be reelected in late 2018, according to the Paris-based press advocacy group.
The election 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, said the RSF.
The internationally recognised photojournalist Shahidul Alam was held for more than 100 days on completely spurious grounds in an example of how the judicial system is used to silence those who annoy the government, it noted.
In its analysis on the Asia-Pacific region, the RSF said that the situation was worrying in Bangladesh, where ‘reporters covering protests and the election were the targets of unprecedented violence’.
The executive’s latest weapon is the digital security law adopted in October 2018, under which ‘negative propaganda’ was punishable by up to 14 years in prison, said the RSF.
Among the South Asian nations, Bhutan advanced 4 steps to stand at 80th place, the Maldives jumped to 98th from 117th while Nepal slided 6 steps to 106th in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index.
India went down 2 steps to stand at 140th position and Pakistan moved backward 3 steps to hold 142nd place in the index.
Myanmar, which has been keeping two Reuters reporters in detention for about a year for their investigation on persecuted Rohingyas, is also ahead of Bangladesh with 138th place.
From 2013, the press freedom in Bangladesh was deteriorating except in 2016 when the county advanced 2 steps to the 144th position from the previous 146th, said the RSF.

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