ABSTRACTED FROM EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: On December 30, 2018, Bangladesh held national elections. The election was not deemed fair by observers, and from the point of filing nomination papers to election campaigning, the opposition faced severe political obstacles. Their cadres were arrested, and rallies and campaign were attacked by the ruling party’s supporters. The government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed, which has been in power since 2009, employed the police as a political tool during the period under review. In many instances, the police filed false cases against supporters of the opposition party and common citizens, many of whom had to pay bribes in order to escape prosecution in false cases. The judiciary remains under executive control, with the government controlling key appointments to the judiciary. Moreover, intelligence agencies were used to intimidate the opposition. There were several cases of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances. Moreover, the media is under severe stress. The passage of Digital Security Act 2018 placed severe limitations on the freedom of speech. This act armed law enforcement with the powers to detain citizens indiscriminately on grounds of treason. Most of the media houses have adopted practices of self-censorship in order to survive.
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