Bangladesh slips 2 notches in democracy index

Freedom of the World 2020 report

The ruling Awami League (AL) has consolidated political power through sustained harassment of the opposition and those perceived to be allied with it, as well as of critical media and voices in civil society. Corruption is a serious problem, and anticorruption efforts have been weakened by politicized enforcement. Due process guarantees are poorly upheld and security forces carry out a range of human right abuses with near impunity.

In January 2019, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina began her third consecutive term in office following the Awami League’s (AL) victory in December 2018 parliamentary elections, which were marked by violence, the intimidation of opposition candidates and supporters, allegations of fraud benefiting the ruling party, and the exclusion of nonpartisan election monitors.

The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) declared a boycott of parliament following the December 2018 election, but in April four of the six BNP members who won seats decided to take the oath of office. Meanwhile, BNP leader Khaleda Zia remained in prison, having been convicted of corruption charges ahead of the 2018 polls.

More than 700,000 Rohingya refugees who had fled Myanmar since 2017 remained in Bangladesh, where most live in precarious camps that lack basic services. The Bangladesh government became increasingly hostile toward the Rohingya during the year, cutting off cell phone service in the camps and erecting barbed-wire fencing around them.