Bangladesh slid four notches and is now 150th in the World Press Freedom Index revealed by the Reporters Without Borders yesterday.
The situation was worrying in Bangladesh, where reporters covering protests and the election were the targets of unprecedented violence, says the index, available in its website.
Press freedom was in good health in less than quarter of the 180 countries covered by the index, with the United States sliding to 48th place, it says.
India, the world’s biggest democracy, slid two notches to the 140th place.
Norway ranked the top country in the index.
Analysing regional press freedom, the global media watchdog said Bangladeshi journalists have been among the leading collateral victims of the tough methods adopted by the ruling Awami League.
“The campaign leading up to her reelection in late 2018 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.”
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, the report says.
The government’s latest weapon is the digital security law adopted in October 2018, under which “negative propaganda” is punishable by up to 14 years in prison, it adds.