Bangladesh's status based on the extent to which its population enjoys political rights and civil liberties has remained unchanged as per the Freedom in the World 2021 report released on Wednesday.
The report evaluates the state of freedom in 195 countries and 15 territories in 2020, in which Bangladesh has again fallen into the "Partly Free" category. Only 42% countries have been labeled as "Free" and 30% "Partly Free". The rest are under the Not Free category.
Freedom in the World report has been published annually since 1973 by the Washington-based nonprofit and nonpartisan organisation Freedom House that aims to support democratic change, monitors freedom, and advocates for democracy and human rights.
"Each country or territory is assigned between 0 and 4 points on a series of 25 indicators, for an aggregate score of up to 100. The indicators are grouped into the categories of political rights (0–40) and civil liberties (0–60), whose totals are weighted equally to determine whether the country or territory has an overall status of Free, Partly Free, or Not Free," reads the report.
A score of 0 means not free and 4 means free.
The 82 "Free" countries include Finland, Norway and Sweden while Mexico, Malaysia, and Singapore are among the "Partly Free" nations. The 54 "Not Free" countries include China, Saudi Arabia and North Korea.
Bangladesh scored 39 out of 100 in 2020, registering no change from the previous edition of the report, against the backdrop of an accelerated decline in democracy globally.
Bangladesh achieved 15 points out of 40 in political rights, and 24 out of 60 in civil liberties, as it did a year ago.
Freedom in South Asia
India was the only "Free" country in South Asia, but this year it has been recognised as "Partly Free" after it scored 67 points down from 71 in the previous year.
Indians' political rights and civil liberties have been eroding since Narendra Modi became prime minister in 2014, said the Freedom House.
India still topped in South Asia, followed by Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Bangladesh occupies the 5th position, followed by Pakistan and Afghanistan.
All the countries in the region have been classified as "Partly Free", except for Afghanistan tagged as "Not Free".
Bangladesh has consistently been in the category of "Partly Free" since the first Freedom in the World report was published in 1973. Only in the 1976 report, it was rated as "Not Free" and in the 1992 and 1993 reports, it was categorised as "Free".
The report said the share of countries designated "Not Free" had reached its highest level since the deterioration of democracy began in 2006, and that countries with worsening political rights and civil liberties outnumbered those with gains by the largest margin recorded during the 15-year period.
The report downgraded the freedom scores of 73 countries, representing 75% of the global population. Those affected include not just authoritarian states like China, Belarus, and Venezuela, but also troubled democracies, such as the United States and India.