Bangladesh | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2004

2004 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

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


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


The Bangladeshi media continued to face a high level of violence and harassment at the hands of the state and other actors in 2003. 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 June, warrants of arrest were filed against two leading news editors for defamation after they published a letter that was critical of a senior government official. The Committee to Protect Journalists documented several other cases in which journalists who reported on crimes committed by officials were detained in reprisal on trumped-up charges. Journalists are regularly threatened and violently attacked by organized-crime groups, political parties and their supporters, government authorities, the police, and Islamist groups. Most commonly, they are subjected to such attacks as a result of their coverage of corruption, criminal activity, political violence, the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, or human rights abuses. Impunity for those who perpetrate crimes against journalists is the norm. The independent print media present diverse views, although coverage of politics at a number of newspapers is highly partisan. In addition, many journalists practice some level of self-censorship. The state owns most broadcast media, and coverage favors the ruling party. Political considerations influence the distribution of government advertising revenue and subsidized newsprint, upon which most publications are dependent. Authorities remained sensitive to scrutiny by the foreign media; in July they banned an issue of Newsweek that contained an article on the Koran, and foreign journalists have encountered increasing difficulties in obtaining visas to enter Bangladesh.