Bangladesh has ranked 144th among 180 countries in terms of press freedom in 2015, according to a report of the press freedom index-2016.The country went up two steps in the world press freedom index-2016 from the 146th position in 2015, a year which saw a “deep and disturbing decline” in respect of the media.
Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF) based in Paris released the report on Wednesday, voiced serious concern over the state of freedom of expression in Bangladesh.
“Journalists and bloggers who refuse to submit to censorship or to censor themselves on these subjects (the constitution or Islam) risk life imprisonment or the death penalty,” observed the leading journalism advocacy group.
Bangladesh’s position is the lowest, except Pakistan’s, in the South Asian scene. The index has placed Pakistan at 147th position, Sri Lanka at 141st, India at 133rd, Afghanistan at 120th, Nepal at 105th and Bhutan at 94th.
The 2016 report by RSF or Reporters Without Borders is “indicative of a climate of fear and tension combined with increasing control” over newsrooms by authoritarian and oppressive governments and private-sector interests.
“It is unfortunately clear that many of the world’s leaders are developing a form of paranoia about legitimate journalism,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire
“We are entering a new era of propaganda where new technologies allow the low-cost dissemination of their own communication, their information, as dictated. On the other side, journalists are the ones who get in the way.”
The RSF has prepared the index calculating points based on violation of media freedom. Accordingly, the global indicator has gone from 3719 points last year to 3857 points this year, meaning 3.71 per cent deterioration. The decline since 2013 is 13.6 per cent.
Bangladesh has scored 45.94 points compared to 8.59 points scored by the top-ranked country Finland and 83.92 points allocated to the bottom country, Eritrea, in the list.
Among the major powers of the world, Australia has ranked 25th, the United Kingdom 38th, South Africa 39th, the United States 41st, France 45th, Japan 72nd, Brazil 104th, Myanmar (Burma) 143rd, Malaysia 146th, Russia 148th, Singapore 154th, Saudi Arabia 165th and China 176th.
Four lowest ranked countries are Syria at 177th (just below China at 176th), Turkmenistan at 178th, North Korea at 179th and Eritrea at 180th.
Japan slumped to 72nd due to what the watchdog identified as self-censorship towards Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, while Finland retained its top spot for the sixth consecutive year, followed by the Netherlands and Norway.