Armed conflict continued and armed groups carried out at least 70 attacks, killing tens of civilians. The humanitarian situation continued to deteriorate. Over 700 suspected Boko Haram members went on trial. Hundreds of people, including prisoners of conscience, were arrested and prosecuted for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and association. Security forces used excessive force against protesters. The rights of refugees and migrants were violated.
In March, the government declared a state of emergency in the western areas bordering Mali and extended the security forces’ powers after attacks by armed groups in Tillabéry and Tahoua. It renewed the state of emergency in the Diffa region, where attacks by armed groups continued.
Freedoms of expression and association
Hundreds of people, including prisoners of conscience, were arbitrarily arrested and prosecuted for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and association.
In May, Insar Abdourahmane, a member of the Association of Action for Democracy and Human Rights, was arrested and detained for more than 20 days in Agadez town for criticizing the authorities on Facebook. He was given a six-month suspended prison sentence for inciting violence.
In April, security forces used excessive force to repress a student protest in Niamey, the capital, against the suspension of bursary payments and new age restrictions on welfare payments. One student, Mala Bagallé, was killed after being shot in the back with a tear gas canister, and dozens were wounded. In May, a commission of inquiry found that the gendarmerie was responsible for the killing; and a judicial investigation was opened.
At least 300 students, including board members of the Niger Union of Students, were arrested throughout the country, detained for a few days and released without charge for participating in a protest and blocking traffic.
In May, Amadou Ali Djibo, leader of the opposition coalition Front for the Restoration of Democracy and the Defence of the Republic, was convicted of inciting revolt and, after 11 days’ detention, was given a 90-day conditional suspended sentence.
In April, Baba Alpha, an outspoken journalist working for private television channel Bonferey, and his father, who was born in Mali, were arrested and charged with forgery and illegal status. In July they were sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for forgery.
In June, Ibrahim Bana, a member of opposition party Moden Fa Lumana, and Gamatié Mahamadou Yansambou, Secretary General of the Union of Taxi Drivers, were arrested and charged for attempting to influence a judicial investigation after they denounced, on social media, corruption in the judicial system. In July, Ibrahim Bana was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment, including two months suspended, and Mahamadou Yansambou was released after more than 15 days.
In July, 43 members of the teachers’ union SYNACEB were convicted of disrupting public safety and inciting a riot, after they boycotted substitute teacher evaluations. They spent more than 15 days in detention and were sentenced to suspended prison terms of between one and three months.
Armed groups including Boko Haram carried out at least 70 attacks on soldiers and villages in the Diffa, Mainé-Soroa, Tillabéry and Bosso regions. At least 30 people, including civilians, were killed and others wounded; over 60 people were abducted. In June, suspected Boko Haram members killed nine people and abducted 37 women in the region of Nguigmi.
The trial of 700 people accused of supporting Boko Haram began on 2 March. Most had been arrested in the Diffa region since 2013, although some had been detained since 2012. Among them were Nigerians, including refugees from areas affected by Boko Haram.
In July, 13 people, including two Niger nationals and 11 Nigerian nationals, were killed by Niger soldiers in a village near Abada on the Nigeria border, when they were mistaken for members of an armed group. An investigation was launched into the killings.
Economic, social and cultural rights
The UN CEDAW Committee expressed concern that 82% of the population lived in extreme poverty. Women were particularly affected by food insecurity in rural areas, a fact linked to, among other things, their socioeconomic status and the impact of climate change and extractive industries. The Committee also expressed concern that temporary measures to achieve greater gender equality were inadequately applied, including in employment, education and health.
As the humanitarian situation deteriorated due to conflict, the UN estimated that 2.2 million people, including 408,000 in Diffa, were in need of humanitarian assistance; 1.8 million were estimated to be severely food insecure. Over 73% of children under five and almost 46% of women of reproductive age suffered from anaemia.
Refugees’ and migrants’ rights
Over 60,000 refugees and migrants transited Niger on the way to Libya and Algeria where many suffered serious abuses including rape, unlawful detention in harsh conditions, ill-treatment and extortion, and unknown numbers died. Operations to arrest perpetrators pushed smugglers to use more dangerous routes to Libya or Algeria.
In May, eight migrants from Niger, including five children, died of thirst after they were abandoned on the way to Algeria; and 92 migrants were found close to death by the Niger Army after being beaten and abandoned by their driver in the desert near Bilma in the north. In June, 44 migrants, including babies, were found dead in the desert near Agadez, central Niger, after their vehicle broke down on the way to Libya.