Bangladesh has slipped two notches in the World Press Freedom Index 2017.
It has ranked 146th among 180 countries in terms of press freedom, according to a report released globally by Reporters Without Borders (RWB) yesterday.
“The Bangladeshi government does not take kindly to criticism of its Constitution or its state religion, Islam,” the report mentioned.
“Journalists and bloggers who resist censorship or self-censorship on these subjects risk life imprisonment, the death penalty, or murder by Islamist militants, who often issue online calls for the deaths of outspoken secularist bloggers and writers.”
There is real pluralism, but media self-censorship is growing as a result of the endemic violence against journalists and media outlets, and the systematic impunity enjoyed by those responsible, it noted.
The report pointed out that the government took a tougher line towards its critics and the media in general in 2016.
“This was made clear by official statements expressing hostility towards the media, the blocking of dozens of websites, and the many lawsuits brought against journalists by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's Awami League.”
Warning of a “tipping point” for journalism, the RWB said media freedom throughout the world has never been as threatened as it is now.
“We have reached the age of post-truth, propaganda, and suppression of freedoms -- especially in democracies.”
This reflects a world in which attacks on the media have become commonplace and strongmen are on the rise, said the Paris-based monitoring group.
It also highlighted the “toxic” media-bashing of US President Donald Trump's election campaign and Britain's Brexit referendum.
After six years at the top, Finland (ranked 3rd) was replaced by Norway, while at the other end of the index, Eritrea (179th) surrendered the last place to North Korea for the first time since 2007.