Freedom House Report: Bangladesh saw decline in civil liberties | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 08, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:51 AM, February 08, 2019

Freedom House Report: Bangladesh saw decline in civil liberties

Bangladesh continues to suffer a decline in political rights and civil liberties, according to a report of Freedom House.

With an aggregate score of 41 out of 100, the Freedom in the World-2019 report has categorised Bangladesh's freedom status as “Partly Free”.

The country scored five out of seven in freedom rating, political rights and civil liberties.

Comparing the aggregate score, the report showed a declining trend in the country's democracy in three years since 2015. Its aggregate scores were 49, 47 and 45 in 2016, 2017 and 2018 reports   respectively.

The report titled “Democracy in Retreat” said global freedom declined for the 13th consecutive year in 2018.

Democracy is facing an alarming fall throughout the world as more countries move towards authoritarianism, said the report released on Monday by US-based independent watchdog Freedom House.

It assessed the condition of political rights and civil liberties around the world and showed ratings for 195 countries and 14 territories.

In South Asia, only India practices liberal democracy. In Afghanistan, democracy is not free at all. Partly free democracy prevails in the rest of the countries in the region, according to the report.

In terms of aggregate points, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Maldives ranked behind Bangladesh.

In Bangladesh, law enforcers cracked down on the opposition ahead of parliamentary elections, intimidating and arresting prominent figures. The polls themselves were marked by widespread irregularities and interparty violence that resulted in more than a dozen deaths, said the report.

A total of 68 countries saw a decline in political rights and civil liberties last year, while only 50 registered progress in these areas, it added.

The independent watchdog found that the decline in freedom of expression over the last 13 years touched all parts of the world and affected Free, Partly Free, and Not Free countries alike.

Every region, except Asia-Pacific, has a lower average score for 2018 than it did in 2005. Even Asia declined when countries with less than 1 million people -- mostly small Pacific Island states -- are excluded.

As a group, Not Free countries suffered a more significant score drop than Free or Partly Free countries, the report said.

“More authoritarian powers are now banning opposition groups or jailing their leaders, dispensing with term limits, and tightening the screws on any independent media that remain.”

Freedom of expression has come under sustained attack, through both assaults on the press and encroachments on the speech rights of ordinary citizens. Freedom of expression declined each year over the past 13 years, with sharper drops since 2012. Last year, press freedom scores fell in four out of six regions in the world, the study said.

It also mentioned that flagrant violations, like the imprisonment of journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo for their investigative reporting in Myanmar, have become more widespread.

According to the study, ethnic cleansing was another growing trend, with an increase in regimes making concerted efforts to alter the ethnic composition of their territory.

The Freedom House said liberal democracy has been in retreat for over a decade. Since 2006, a total of 116 countries have seen a decline in democratic freedoms, while only 63 countries have experienced growth.

Freedom in the World is produced each year by a team of analysts and expert advisers from the academic, think tank, and human rights communities. They use a broad range of sources, including news articles, academic analyses, reports from nongovernmental organisations, individual professional contacts, and on-the-ground research.

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