NEW YORK -- Only about one third of the world's people can be classified as truly free, a study measuring political rights and civil liberties showed Thursday.
The private New York-based Freedom House said its 1983 survey of 166 countries and 54 related territories showed 1.67 billion people in 52 countries, 36 percent of the world total, were truly free.
It classified 1.075 billion people in 56 countries, or 23 percent, as 'partly free,' and 1.917 billion in 58 nations, or 41 percent, as 'not free.'
Freedom House, which describes itself as a group 'dedicated to strengthening democratic institutions' around the world, said the survey showed little change from 1982.
It noted, however, a 'most discouraging continuing retreat' in Honduras, Malta, and Sri Lanka, which were dropped from the 'free' category to 'partly free.' Other declines were noted in Bangladesh, Grenada, Guyana, the Philippines, Syria and Zaire.
On the other hand, Freedom House noted 'increased assertions of freedom' by individual, mostly dissident, Poles, South Africans and Yugoslavs that helped raise those countries to the 'partly free' category despite the fact that government policies there remained unchanged.
The executive committee of Freedom House said in reference to Poland, South Africa and Yugoslavia that 'the limits of liberty are currently being stretched by irrepressible forces within the societies.'
In Poland, it noted 'the power exerted by the Catholic Church and the people, symbolized in part by the long periods of relative freedom of (Solidarity union leader) Lech Walesa, and the amazing vitality and wide distribution of the underground independent press which has never been matched in other communist countries.'
Argentina, Liberia and Upper Volta also were moved from 'not free' to 'partly free.'
Grenada was described as 'not free' until the U.S. and Caribbean forces intervened last October. Freedom House said, 'we assume that one ostensible objective of this foreign intervention -- to restore constitutional democracy -- will soon be well on its way toward achievement.'
Separate surveys of media showed the print press free in 54 countries (35 percent), partly free in 37 (23 percent), and not free in 66 (42 percent). The broadcast media showed a worse record -- free in 36 nations (23 percent), partly free in 32 (21 percent) and not free in 88 (56 percent).