Niger: 25 May marks two months since 26 activists and civil society members have been detained
10 organisations call on authorities in Niger to stop prosecution of activists and civil society members and release those detained
Two months after 26 civil society activists were arrested in the capital, Niamey, at peaceful demonstrations against a new finance law, Oxfam and Amnesty International alongside eight other NGOs are calling on the authorities of Niger to release the detainees and bring an end to the prosecutions civil society.
The civil society activists were detained on March 25 2018 in various prisons in the country for “organising and participating in a prohibited demonstration”, “complicity in violence”, “aggression” and “destruction of property”. The 26 arrested include three leaders of civil society organisations: Moussa Tchangari, Alternative espace citoyen (Alternative citizen spaces); Ali Idrissa, Rotab; and Nouhou Arzika, Mouvement pour la promotion de la citoyenneté responsable (Movement for the Promotion of Responsible Citizenship). Five other protesters including Ibrahim Diori (Alternative espace citoyen /Alternative citizen spaces), Maïkoul Zodi (Tournons la Page,) Abdourahamane Idé Hassane (Jeunesse pour une mentalité nouvelle /Youth for a New Mentality) were later arrested on April 15 and prosecuted for the same charges.
“This situation is of deep concern for international human rights and development organisations who believe that civic space does not pose a threat to the government, but instead allows citizens to engage in a constructive dialogue with the authorities,” said Adama Coulibaly, Oxfam West Africa Regional Director.
“The right of civil society organisations to engage in peaceful activities is protected by international law. These people play a vital role in the protection and realisation of human rights and democracy. They should not be seen as a threat, but rather as actors of dialogue with whom the State should engage.”
The organisations call on the authorities in Niger to immediately release the activists and to drop all prosecutions against them. They ask the authorities to also begin to have constructive dialogue with civil society organisations about their right to protest on any matter of national interest immediately.
“Instead of deploying strategies to attack civil society activists and human rights defenders, the authorities in Niger should recognise their legitimacy by respecting their work, providing them with the necessary space for their activities, and protecting them against threats,” said Samira Daoud, Amnesty International Deputy Regional Director for West and Central Africa.
“On no occasion should Niger seek to demonstrate its position in West Africa by reducing the space of civil society. It is high time these detainees all arrested in connection with the 2018 finance law protests were released,” said Melanie Sonhaye Kombate of the West African Human Rights Defenders Network.
- Amnesty International
- Front Line Defenders
- Publiez Ce Que Vous Payez
- Tournons La Page
- FIDH, within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders” and World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
- West Africa civil society Institute
- Centre for civil and Political rights
- West Africa Human Rights Defenders Network ROADDH/WAHRDN