Activists released but charges still pending
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).