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Niger: Legal concern / fear of ill-treatment / probable prisoners of conscience

, رقم الوثيقة: AFR 43/001/1997

At least 100 members and supporters of the Front pour la restauration et la defense de la democratie (FRDD), Front for the Restoration and Defence of Democracy, a coalition of eight opposition parties, including: Mahamane Ousmane, former President, leader of the CDS party, Mahamadou Issoufou, former President of the National Assembly, leader of the PNDS party, Mamadou Tandja, leader of the MNSD party: At least 100 people arrested on 11 January 1997 when security forces broke up a peaceful demonstration, are being held incommunicado and without charge. There is concern they may face torture or ill-treatment.

EXTERNAL AI Index: AFR 43/01/97
UA 19/97 Legal concern / Fear of ill-treatment /
Probable prisoners of conscience 17 January 1997
NIGERAt least 100 members and supporters of the Front pour la restauration
et la défense de la démocratie (FRDD), Front for the Restoration
and Defence of Democracy, a coalition of eight opposition parties,
including:
Mahamane Ousmane, former President,leader of the Convention démocratique
et sociale (CDS)
Mahamadou Issoufou, former President of the National Assembly, leader of
the Parti nigérien pour la démocratie et le socialisme (PNDS)
Mamadou Tandja, leader of the Mouvement national pour la société et le
développement (MNSD), the former single party
At least 100 people arrested since 11 January 1997 are being held incommunicado
and without charge in various places of detention in the capital, Niamey, and
throughout Niger. Their lawyers and relatives have been denied access and
information about their exact whereabouts. Amnesty International is concerned
that they may face torture or ill-treatment.
The detainees are members and supporters of several opposition political parties
belonging to the FRDD (see above). They appear to have been arrested solely
as an attempt by the authorities to stop a peaceful national campaign by the
FRDD calling for a return to democracy and free access to the press. The first
arrests took place in Niamey on 11 January 1997 when the security forces broke
up a demonstration called by the FRDD, which they claimed had been banned.
Fifty-eight people were arrested, including nine women who were subsequently
released. Twenty-six people were reportedly injured, one seriously. Although
the demonstration appears to have been peaceful, after it was dispersed some
protestors were reported to have blockaded the roads and set tyres on fire.
The government has accused the FRDD of planning a campaign to destabilize the
country and dozens of opposition members and supporters were reported to have
been arrested in Niamey and other towns in the hours and days following the
demonstration. They included Mahamane Ousmane, former President, Mahamadou
Issoufou, former President of the National Assembly, and Mamadou Tandja, leader
of the MNDS (see above). Initially held under house arrest, the three were
moved to an unknown place of detention on 14 January.
None of those arrested appears to have been charged and they continue to be
held incommunicado beyond the normal 48 hours’ legal limit of garde à vue,
the period after which detainees must be referred to a judicial authority.
On 14 January the government announced that Mahamane Ousmane, Mahamadou Issoufou
and Mamadou Tandja would be tried by a state security court for atteinte à
la sûreté de l’Etat et renversement du régime, threatening the security of
the state and overthrowing the regime. This special court was established
by legislation in 1974 which also allows for detention without charge for up
to two months. The state security court was re-established by presidential
decree on 14 January and its members were sworn in on 17 January.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
There has been a serious decline in the human rights situation in Niger since
27 January 1996 when Colonel Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara overthrew the
democratically elected government of President Mahamane Ousmane in a military
2
coup. After presidential elections in July 1996, Colonel Maïnassara remained
as head of state although the opposition contested the results of the elections
which were marked by serious irregularities. In protest, the opposition
boycotted legislative elections held in November 1996.
Since the coup in January 1996, the authorities have on several occasions sought
to contain opposition by suppressing peaceful demonstrations and resorting
to prolonged detention without charge, house-arrest, and torture and
ill-treatment of political detainees, in particular during the presidential
campaign in July 1996. Amnesty International documented separate incidents
of torture and ill-treatment of detainees including beatings, shaving of heads
and mock executions. In an incident in Zinder on 11 July 1996, some detainees
were reportedly publicly humiliated by being forced to undress completely and
simulate the sexual act on the ground.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/airmail
letters in French or your own language:
- expressing concern that at least 100 opposition members and supporters
including former President Mahamane Ousmane, former President of the National
Assembly Mahamadou Issoufou and the leader of the MNSD, Mamadou Tandja, are
reported to be detained incommunicado and without charge;
- seeking clarification of the legal basis for their continuing detention and
urging that their places of detention be made public and that they be given
access to lawyers and relatives;
- seeking assurances that the detainees are being treated humanely in accordance
with international standards for conditions of detention;
- stating that Amnesty International recognizes the right of any government
to maintain law and order but expressing concern that most of the detainees
appear to be have been arrested only because of their peaceful political
activities and urging that all prisoners of conscience be immediately and
unconditionally released and that any others be charged with recognizably
criminal offences and promptly and fairly tried according to international
standards.
APPEALS TO:
President
Son Excellence
Monsieur le général Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara
Président de la République
La Présidence, Niamey, Niger
Telegrams: President, Niamey, Niger
Fax: + 227 733430
Salutation: Excellence / Dear President
Prime Minister
Monsieur Amadou Boubakar Cissé
Premier Ministre
La Primature, Niamey, Niger
Telegrams: Premier Ministre, Niamey, Niger
Fax: c/o Ministry of Foreign Affairs +227 735231
Salutation: Monsieur le Premier Ministre / Dear Prime Minister
Minister for the Interior
Monsieur Idi Ango Omar
Ministre de l'Intérieur
3
Ministère de l'intérieur, Niamey, Niger
Telegrams: Ministre Interieur, Niamey, Niger
Telex: 5214
Faxes: +227 722176
Salutation: Monsieur le Ministre / Dear Minister
Minister for Justice
Monsieur Boubé Oumarou
Ministre de la Justice et des Droits de l'Homme, Garde des Sceaux
Ministère de la Justice, Niamey, Niger
Telegrams: Ministre Justice, Niamey, Niger
Faxes: +227 735231
Telex: 5214
Salutation: Monsieur le Ministre / Dear Minister
COPIES TO:
Monsieur Ibrahim Hassane Mayaki, Ministre d'Etat, chargé des Relations
Extérieures, Ministère des Affaires étrangères, Niamey, Niger.
Fax: 227 735231
and to diplomatic representatives of Niger accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat or
your section office, if sending appeals after 10 March 1997.

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