Media 'never under so much threat'

Media freedom in Bangladesh went down two steps from last year's position

Media freedom throughout the world has never been as threatened as it is now, says Reporters Without Borders.

Releasing the annual World Press Freedom Index 2017 today, Reporters Without Borders warned of a “tipping point” for journalism.

Bangladesh ranked 146th among 180 countries in terms of press freedom in 2016 and went down two steps from last year's position.

The report said, “The Bangladeshi government does not take kindly to criticism of its Constitution or its state religion, Islam.”

It said 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.

It also said, “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.”

The report said in 2016, the government took a tougher line towards its critics and the media in general.

“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.”

The report said 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.