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ACTIVISTS RELEASED BUT CHARGES STILL PENDING

Activists released but charges still pending

3 activists released
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On 13 March, the Niger authorities published a statement from the Council of Ministers concerning measures being taken to combat the spread of COVID-19, including a ban on all gatherings likely to attract more than 1,000 people. A demonstration was already planned to take place on 15 March in Niamey and other cities by civil society organisations to demand an investigation into the allegations of misuse of funds revealed by an audit of the Ministry of Defence.

Despite the ban, the organisers went ahead with the demonstrations. In the early hours of 15 March, security forces blocked all the roads leading to the planned venue for the protest, the ‘Place de la Concertation’ in Niamey. At least three individuals died when the demonstration was violently broken up by security forces using tear gas. Significant damage was recorded as several shops were set on fire near the Tagabati market. The 6 activists were arrested and detained. Karim Tanko was released provisionally on 19 April, and Moussa Tchangari and Habibou Soumaila on 30 April.

The human rights situation in Niger will be reviewed at the next session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (13 November-3 December 2020) and at the 38th session of the Universal Periodic Review of the UN Human Rights Council (3 May-14 May 2021).
 

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PROMINENT ACTIVISTS STILL LANGUISHING IN JAIL

Prominent activists still languishing in jail

Niger
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On 13 March, the Niger authorities published a statement from the Council of Ministers concerning measures being taken to combat the spread of COVID-19, including a ban on all gatherings likely to attract more than 1,000 people. A demonstration was already planned to take place on 15 March in Niamey and other cities by civil society organisations to demand an investigation into the allegations of misuse of funds revealed by an audit of the Ministry of Defence. Despite the ban, the organisers went ahead with the demonstrations. In the early hours of 15 March, security forces blocked all the roads leading to the planned venue for the protest, the ‘Place de la Concertation’ in Niamey. At least three individuals died when the demonstration was violently broken up by security forces using tear gas. Significant damage was recorded as several shops were set on fire near the Tagabati market. Civil society leaders were subsequently arrested.

On 30 April, Sani Chekaraou, president of the Niamey wholesalers’ association was released on bail with Moussa Tchangari and Habibou Soumaila. He was arrested on 16 March and charged with assault of market officials. Two other activists, Karim Tanko and Seyni Djibo, whose on behalf we had issued an Urgent Action on, on 25 March, while they were in detention, were released on bail on 19 March.

On 24 May, the activist Seyni Djibo died by pirogue accident (capsizing) on the Niger River.
Since the beginning of the year, Amnesty International has recorded 27 arrests of activists, unionists, journalists and dissenting voices in Niger, 17 of them are anti-corruption activists who spoke out about the allegations against the Ministry of Defense.

Samira Sabou, a journalist and President of the Niger bloggers association, was freed from Niamey prison on 28 July after the judge dismissed all charges of defamation against her. She had been arbitrarily detained for 48 days, in pre-trial detention, after a defamation complaint, filed by the son of the President, was made against her following a Facebook user’s mention of the President’s son’s name in a comment on a post made on Samira Sabou’s Facebook page. The 26 May post related to allegations of corruption in the procurement of military equipment.

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JOURNALIST SAMIRA SABOU HAS BEEN FREED

journalist Samira Sabou has been freed

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JOURNALIST ARRESTED OVER DEFAMATION CHARGES

Journalist arrested over defamation charges

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Journalist and administrator of the mides-niger.com news site, Samira Sabou was fired from her position as a contractual worker for the newspaper, Le Sahel, which is managed by the National Office for Publishing and Press (ONEP, Office National d’Édition et de Presse) in October 2017, after she posted a photo of herself mimicking President Issoufou. Following pressures from the authorities, her phone was taken from her by her editor, and the photo was forcibly deleted from her Facebook On 17 February 2020, a Tribunal in Niamey considered her firing from ONEP as abusive and ordered  her employer to pay her compensation in the sum of FCFA 2.640.000. 

The audit of the Niger defence ministry revealed allegations of overcharging of contracts and the embezzlement of billions of CFA francs intended for the purchase of military equipment for soldiers engaged on the various anti-terrorism fronts between 2017 and 2019.

According to a statement from the government spokesperson, the audit found weaknesses in the procurement procedures, as well as in the monitoring of their execution.

Since March 2020, members of civil society have denounced on social media and during demonstrations the facts revealed in the audit report - which leaked - the intrusions of the executive in the judicial proceedings and asked for a legal prosecution for those suspected to be responsible.

Since the beginning of the year, Amnesty International has recorded 27 arrests of activists, unionists, journalists and dissenting voices in Niger, 17 of them are anti-corruption activists who spoke out about allegations of corruption involving the Ministry of Defence.

Seven activists were arrested between 15 and 17 March in Niamey after organizing a demonstration on 15 March to demand an investigation and prosecution of those suspected of embezzlement of funds for the Defence Ministry.

There is also a pattern of harassment and intimidation of activists based on Cybercriminality Law. From March to end of May 2020, at least four activists were arrested and charged on the basis this law. 

Ali Idrissa, coordinator of ROTAB (The Organisation for Transparency and Budgetary Analysis) and leader of civil society organisation was summoned to the police station on 9 April following a complaint by the former Army Chief of Staff. He was accused of defamation in connection with the corruption scandal involving the Ministry of Defense. Ali Idrissa was released on bail on 14 April. He was charged with “defamation against the general of the army and the wife of the former Chief of staff”, as well as the “dissemination of information likely to disturb public order” based on the Cybercriminality Law.
 

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Niger: 100-day detention of three activists highlights increasing crackdown on dissenting voices

Human rights defenders languishing in jail for organising a protest to demand an investigation into misuse of funds by Niger’s Ministry of Defence Amnesty has recorded 27 arrests of activists and dissenting voices in Niger in 2020 The Nigerian authorities must immediately drop charges and release three human rights defenders who demanded an investigation into an alleged misuse of funds by Niger’s Ministry of Defence, Amnesty International said today, as the activists reach 100 days of being held in a Niger prison. Moudi Moussa, a journalist and trade unionist, Halidou Mounkaila, a leader of

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THREE ACTIVISTS STILL DETAINED

Three activists still detained

Niger Delta, © Michael Uwemedimo/cmapping.net
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On 30 April, Sani Chekaraou president of the Niamey wholesalers’ association was released on bail with Moussa Tchangari and Habibou Soumaila. He was also arrested on 16 March and charged with assault of market officials. 

There is a pattern of harassment and intimidation of activists on the basis of Cybercrime Law. From March to end of April 2020, at least four activists were arrested and charged under this cyber law. 

Mahaman Lawali Mahaman Nassourou (member of ROTAB) was arrested on 23 April for "sharing and dissemination information likely to disturb public order or to harm human dignity". He is detained at the prison of Maradi, second largest city in Niger

Ali Idrissa, coordinator of ROTAB and leader of civil society organisation was summoned to the police station on 9 April following a complaint by the former Army Chief of Staff. He was accused of defamation in connection with the corruption scandal involving the Ministry of Defense. Ali Idrissa was released on bail on 14 April. He was charged with “defamation against the general of the army and the wife of the former Chief of staff”, as well as the “dissemination of information likely to disturb public order” based on the Cyber criminality Law.

On Friday 13 March, authorities in Niger published a statement from the Council of Ministers concerning measures being taken to combat the spread of COVID-19, including a ban on all gatherings likely to attract more than 1,000 people. A demonstration was already planned to take place on 15 March in Niamey and other cities by civil society organisation to demand an investigation into the allegations of misuse of funds revealed by an audit of the Ministry of Defence. Despite the ban, the organisers went ahead with the demonstrations. 

Early in the morning of 15 March, security forces blocked all the roads leading to the planned venue for the protest, the ‘Place de la Concertation’ in Niamey. At least three individuals died when the demonstration was violently broken up by security forces using tear gas. Significant damage was recorded as several shops were set on fire near the Tagabati market. Civil society leaders were subsequently arrested.

Maikoul Zodi is detained in Ouallam Prison (100 km from Niamey), Halidou Mounkaila in Camp Penal of Dey Keyna (111 km from Niamey) and Moudi Moussa in Kollo Prison (35 km from Niamey).

On 19 March, Niger reported its first case of the COVID-19 infection in the country. On 20 March, the ministry of Justice declared in a press release that as a prevention measure, detainees are not allowed visits for three months. 
 

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JOURNALIST GIVEN SUSPENDED SENTENCE

Journalist given suspended sentence

Mamane Kaka Touda

JOURNALIST REQUIRES MEDICAL ATTENTION

Journalist requires medical attention

Armed escort.
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Mamane Kaka Touda, journalist and human rights defender, and member of the NGO "Alternative Espaces Citoyens", is detained in the Civil Prison of Niamey, the capital of Niger.

He published posts on social media alerting on a suspected case of COVID-19 infection on 5 March. In a statement released the same day, the hospital said there were no cases of COVID-19 in its departments. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health subsequently confirmed the suspected case mentioned by Mamane Kaka Touda, explaining that an Italian national had indeed been admitted there "as a precaution" before leaving the hospital, the tests being negative.

On 19 March, Niger reported its first case of the COVID-19 infection in the country. On 20 March, Nigerien authorities suspended all visits to detainees for three months. All judicial hearings are temporarily suspended until 25 March. This includes Mamane Kaka Touda’s trial scheduled initially for 23 March.

Following a car accident last year, Mamane Kaka Touda has been experiencing pain in his leg. As his movement is restricted in a small cell, his foot hurts very much and prevents him from sleeping.

Friends, colleagues, and other family members, except from close relatives (mother, father, siblings and spouses) are excluded from the right to visit according to the Law No. 2017-008 determining the fundamental principles of the prison regime in Niger. The law explicitly enshrines the right of close relatives. As such, the public prosecutor says that only those identified as close relatives can be entitled to the communication permit.

Beyond Mamane Kaka Touda, several other individuals have been arrested over the past weeks. On 14 March, the editor-in chief and a journalist from Labari Television were summoned by the police after they interviewed veterinary doctor Zoulkarneyni Maiga about COVID-19. The doctor was also summoned and released on the evening of 16 March. Amnesty International was able to obtain the video of the interview in which Dr. Maiga only talked about the origin of the virus and explained the stages in its development, while asking the public to apply preventive measures.

At least 15 people, including six civil society leaders, were arrested between 15 and 17 March for having participated in an unauthorized demonstration on 15 March, organized to denounce allegations of corruption linked to the purchase of military equipment. The demonstration was organized in a context where the authorities had, to prevent the spread of COVID-19, taken measures to ban gatherings, particularly those of a political, sporting and cultural nature likely to bring together at least 1,000 people. At least three individuals died during the dispersal of the protest by tear gas.
 

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ACTIVISTS ARRESTED FOR ORGANISING PROTESTS

Activists arrested for organising protests

Armed escort.
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On Friday 13 March, authorities in Niger published a statement from the Council of Ministers concerning measures being taken to combat the spread of COVID-19, including a ban on all gatherings likely to attract more than 1,000 people. A demonstration was already planned to take place on 15 March in Niamey and other cities by civil society organisation to demand an investigation into the misuse of funds revealed by an audit of the Ministry of Defence. Despite the ban, the organisers went ahead with the demonstrations. 

Early in the morning of 15 March, security forces blocked all the roads leading to the planned venue for the protest, the ‘Place de la Concertation’ in Niamey. At least three individuals died when the demonstration was violently broken up by security forces using tear gas. Significant damage was recorded as several shops were set on fire near the Tagabati market. Civil society leaders were subsequently arrested.

Karim Tanko, financial secretary of Tournons la Page (TLP Niger), Moussa Tchangari, secretary-general of Alternative Espace Citoyen and Halidou Mounkaila of the teachers’ union (SYNACEB) were arrested separately on 15 March.

On Monday March 16, Maikoul Zodi, national coordinator of Tournons la Page (TLP), Moundi Moussa, a journalist, trade unionist and member of TLP were also arrested.

Habibou Soumaila, the communications and information secretary of the regional branch of TLP Niger in Niamey was arrested on 17 March.

Moussa Tchangari, Halidou Mounkaila, Moundi Moussa, Maikoul Zodi and Habibou Soumaila were charged with organising an unauthorized gathering and complicity in damaging public property, arson, and manslaughter. Two other civil society members, Karim Tanko and Seyni Djibo, were charged with participating in an unauthorized gathering.

Sani Chekaraou, president of the Niamey wholesalers’ association was also arrested on 16 March and charged with assault of market officials. He is detained in Niamey.

On 20 March, they were transferred in separate prisons: Moussa Tchangari is detained in Tillabery prison (100 km from Niamey), Halidou Moukaila in Camp Penal of Dey Keyna (111 km from Niamey) , Moudi Moussa in Kollo Prison (35 km from Niamey), Maikoul Zodi in Ouallam Prison (100 km from Niamey), Habibou Soumaila in Filingue Prison (160 km from Niamey) .

On 19 March, Niger reported its first case of the COVID-19 infection in the country. On 20 March, the ministry of Justice declared in a press release that as a prevention measure, detainees are not allowed visits for three months. 
 

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Urgent Action update: Activist still held after release order issued

Activist Sadat Illiya Dan Malam continues to be detained after a judge of the Zinder High Court dismissed the charges.

3rd update on UA 93/18 issued 20/06/2019
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