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Expert: Human rights defenders face risks

NEW YORK, Oct. 25 (UPI) -- Attacks against human rights defenders around the world have not stopped despite the adoption of a declaration to protect them, a U.N. expert said.

"The lives of many human rights defenders and their relatives continue to be at risk," U.N. Special Representative Margaret Sekaggya told reporters in New York after presenting her latest report on the issue to the General Assembly.

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She said human rights defenders continue to be killed, attacked and harassed around the world even after the adoption of the Declaration of Human Rights Defenders by the U.N. General Assembly in 1998.

Despite the declaration, she said many countries continue to pass laws and regulations restricting human rights activities.

Sekaggya urged countries to recognize the role human rights defenders play, including those working on women's rights or gender issues. She said all allegations of indiscriminate or excessive use of force by law enforcement officials should be properly investigated and appropriate action taken against those responsible.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has made a similar appeal against attacks on human rights defenders.

"Around the world, many brave women and men have placed themselves in considerable peril to help the United Nations uphold fundamental human rights," he said.

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