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UNITED NATIONS (AP) — A U.N. expert says human rights defenders are being attacked and criminalized and more than 1,000 were killed between 2015 and 2017.

Michel Forst is the U.N. special investigator on human rights defenders and his report to the General Assembly’s human rights committee Tuesday says their situation “is deteriorating all over the world.”

He says that beyond the violence, “it is ultimately our rights, our democracies that are in great danger.”

In Forst’s words: “Human rights defenders do not heroically stand in front of or apart from the rest of us. They are each of us, and among us, they are ourselves, our parents, our neighbors, our friends and colleagues.”

He urged countries to renew support for the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders on the 20th anniversary of its adoption.