Niger
Head of state
Major Salou Djibo (replaced Mamadou Tandja in February)
Head of government
Mahamadou Danda (replaced Ali Badjo Gamatié in February)
Death penalty
abolitionist in practice
Population
15.9 million
Life expectancy
52.5 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f)
171/173 per 1,000
Adult literacy
28.7 per cent

Human rights activists continued to be targeted until the overthrow of President Mamadou Tandja in February. The ousted President and other political and military officials were held without charge or trial. Several foreign nationals were taken hostage by al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), one of whom reportedly died in captivity.

Background

In February, President Mamadou Tandja was overthrown by a military junta that suspended the Constitution and dissolved all state institutions. The Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy (CSRD) appointed Major Salou Djibo as Niger’s interim president. The military leadership promised a new Constitution and a rapid return to democracy.

In May, a new electoral code was promulgated. In October, a national pact paving the way towards democracy was signed in Rome by the CSRD, the government, the transitional parliament, major political parties and civil society groups. A new Constitution was adopted in October and parliamentary elections were scheduled for January 2011.

In March, AQIM raided a military outpost in western Niger, killing at least five soldiers.

As a result of widespread crop failure and high food prices, the country faced a severe food crisis with more than half the population short of food. This situation worsened in August after heavy rainfall and localized flooding.

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Detention without trial

Several political leaders were arrested and detained after the military coup. Most were released a few days later, but some were detained without charge or trial.

  • In February, ousted President Mamadou Tandja and Minister of Interior Albadé Abouba were placed under house arrest. By the end of 2010, they were still detained in Niamey, the capital, outside any legal process. In November, the Court of Justice of ECOWAS ordered the authorities of Niger to release former President Tandja.
  • In October, Colonel Abdoulaye Badié, second-in-command of the ruling junta, and three other senior military officers were arrested and accused of plotting to destabilize the regime. They were detained at the headquarters of the National Gendarmerie in Niamey and had not been charged or tried by the end of the year.
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Human rights defenders

Human rights activists were targeted early in the year.

  • In January, Marou Amadou, President of the United Front for the Protection of Democratic Assets (FUSAD), who had been detained for one month in 2009, was given a three-month suspended sentence for “regionalist propaganda” after calling for protests against the government of Mamadou Tandja.
  • In February, Abdoul-Aziz Ladan, President of the Mouvement nigérien pour la sauvegarde de la démocratie (MOSADEM), was charged with “complicity in defamation” for criticizing official policy. The charges were dropped after the overthrow of President Tandja.
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Hostage-taking

Several foreign nationals were taken hostage by AQIM.

  • In April, Michel Germaneau, a 78-year-old French national doing voluntary humanitarian work, was abducted by AQIM, which demanded the release of AQIM members held in neighboring countries. His death was announced by AQIM in July, a few days after the Mauritanian army launched a rescue attempt in Mali, with the co-operation of the French authorities.
  • In September, seven people – five French nationals, one Togolese and one Malagasy – were abducted by AQIM in Arlit, northern Niger. Two were working for a French company exploiting uranium mines in the area. The hostages were reportedly held in north-western Mali. In October, AQIM reportedly demanded for their release the repeal of France’s ban on Muslim face veils, the release of members of their organization and about 7 million euros.
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Death penalty

Following the execution in Libya in May of 18 Africans including three nationals of Niger, the President of Niger met Libyan leader Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi, who reportedly agreed to stop executions of nationals of Niger. The two also discussed the commutation of the sentences of 22 nationals of Niger sentenced to death in Libya to life imprisonment, and their repatriation to Niger to serve their sentences.

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