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Although Winston Churchill said, "A free press is the unsleeping guardian of every other right that free men prize," freedom of the press is under unprecedented attack today throughout the world.

A record 173 journalists were in prison in 23 countries at the end of 1994, and 72 journalists were killed in the line of duty.Moreover, in 1994, there were over 1,500 attacks on the press in nearly 110 countries, including 260 journalists who were beaten, and over 300 who were arrested.

Even today, well over 100 journalists remain in prison.

That is why the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has proclaimed May 3 as World Press Freedom Day, to remind people the world over "that independent media are essential for better international understanding and that objective, non-partisan media are one of the pre-con-di-tions for a democratic, open and tolerant society."

In 1987, the conditions necessary for free news media were clearly stated and approved by journalists from 34 countries in the 10-point Charter for a Free Press. The conditions were drawn up at a meeting called by the World Press Freedom Committee and co-sponsored by other leading international free press groups.

These conditions included freedom from censorship and guaranteed access to news and news sources.

Since only 66 countries currently enjoy a free press and 120 countries have only a partly free press or a press that is not free, these conditions are of vital importance.

Whatever the individual opinions about the merits of the various instruments of the media, freedom-loving people everywhere should be willing to stand up for the protection of a free press.

Everyone deserves the right to freedom of opinion and expression.