Local February 12, 2014 | 4:42 pm

Dominican Republic has a freer press: Reporters Without Borders

Santo Domingo.- A new Reporters Without Borders index cites hot spots in the Middle East, Africa and Asia as being among the worst offenders of press freedom, and improved Dominican Republic’s standing 12 points from 80 in 2013 to 68 this year.

The journalism rights group also says there has been a significant decline in press freedom in the United States.Reporters Without Borders says Syria has become an increasingly dangerous place for journalists during the nearly three-year conflict between the government and the opposition.

The group’s U.S. director, Delphine Halgand, said Syria ranks near the bottom of the index of 180 countries. "You have to keep in mind that more than 130 news providers have been killed in Syria since the start of the conflict in March 2011, including 45 since last year.

On top of that, at least 16 foreign reporters and 26 journalism providers are right now detained, kidnapped or missing," she said.Elsewhere, Halgand said a "privatization of violence" is problematic in some African countries.

Reporters Without Borders says Panama, the Dominican Republic, Bolivia and South Africa are among countries that have made progress toward press freedom over the past year.

It was no surprise that the group singled out The US for its pursuit of intelligence leaker Edward Snowden, the conviction of WikiLeaks informer Bradley Manning and the secret seizure of phone records from the Associated Press.

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