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Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders to start functions on 1 May 2008

30 April 2008

GENEVA-- In March 2008, the Human Rights Council, with resolution 7/8, decided to continue the mandate on the situation of human rights defenders for a period of three years. The Human Rights Council appointed Mrs Margaret Sekaggya as Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders. She takes up her new functions as of 1 May 2008.

The Special Rapporteur is called:
- To promote the effective and comprehensive implementation of the Declaration on human rights defenders through cooperation and constructive dialogue and engagement with Governments, relevant stakeholders and other interested actors;
- To study, in a comprehensive manner, trends, developments and challenges, in relation to the exercise of the rights of anyone acting individually or in association with others, to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms;
- To recommend concrete and effective strategies to better protect human rights defenders, through the adoption of a universal approach, and follow up on these recommendations;
- To seek, receive, examine and respond to information on the situation and the rights of anyone, acting individually or in association with others, to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms;
- To integrate a gender perspective throughout the work of his/her mandate, giving particular attention to the situation of women human rights defenders;
- To work in close coordination with other relevant United Nations bodies, offices, departments and specialized agencies, both at Headquarters and at the country level, and in particular with other special procedures of the Human Rights Council; and
- To report regularly to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly.

Mrs Sekaggya is a magistrate from Uganda and has been the Chairperson of the Uganda Human Rights Commission since 1996. She is also a member of the United Nations High Level Task Force on the Implementation of the Right to Development. She is conversant with the work of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the African Union, the African Peer Review Mechanism and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development. She has also participated in the drawing up of a Bill of Rights for the East African Community. She further has experience on the human rights situation concerning groups like people affected and infected with HIV/AIDS, the disabled, children, women and the elderly.

Mrs Sekaggya succeeds Ms Hina Jilani (Pakistan) who was responsible for this mandate since 2000.

For more information about the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, please consult the website of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/defenders/index.htm