Bangladesh | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2003

2003 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


Conditions for the press worsened in 2002. Although the constitution provides for freedom of expression subject to "reasonable restrictions," the press is constrained by national security legislation as well as sedition and criminal libel laws. In July, authorities withdrew the publishing license of an opposition daily, and issues of several foreign publications were banned or censored during the course of the year. Journalists face considerable pressure from organized crime groups, political activists, the government, and Islamic fundamentalists. In a June report, Reporters Sans Frontieres alleged that Bangladesh had the highest incidence worldwide of violence against the press. A reporter was murdered in March, and journalists are frequently the targets of death threats and violent attacks as a result of their coverage of corruption, criminal activity, and human rights abuses. In December, a number of foreign and local reporters were arrested, detained by security forces, and tortured while in custody after they attempted to report on the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. The independent print media present diverse views, but journalists practice some self-censorship. The state owns most broadcast media, and coverage favors the ruling party. Ekushey Television, the country's only independent terrestrial broadcaster, was forced to close in August after the Supreme Court upheld the withdrawal of its license. Political considerations influence the distribution of government advertising revenue and subsidized newsprint, upon which most publications are dependent.