Niger: Release of activists must signal end to repression of dissenting voices

Commenting on the news that five Nigerien activists detained on trumped-up charges are set to be released after they were given a three-month suspended prison sentence, Samira Daoud, Amnesty International’s West and Central Africa Deputy Regional Director said:

It is encouraging that Ali Idrissa Nani, Nouhou Arzika, Moussa Tchangari, Ousseini Maina and Mamoudou Seyni will be released and finally reunited with their loved ones, but they should have never been arrested in the first place.
Samira Daoud, Amnesty International’s West and Central Africa Deputy Regional Director

“It is encouraging that Ali Idrissa Nani, Nouhou Arzika, Moussa Tchangari, Ousseini Maina and Mamoudou Seyni will be released and finally reunited with their loved ones, but they should have never been arrested in the first place. The charges against them are politically motivated.

“This verdict must be the catalyst for the Niger authorities to end continuing human rights violations in the country, including repression of dissenting voices, banning peaceful demonstrations and arbitrarily arresting activists.

The authorities should start by immediately and unconditionally releasing other human rights defenders who are still awaiting trial on trumped-up charges after nearly four months in detention.
Samira Daoud, Amnesty International’s West and Central Africa Deputy Regional Director

“The authorities should start by immediately and unconditionally releasing other human rights defenders including Ibrahim Diori, Sadat Illiya, Dan Malam, Yahaya Badamassi, Maikoul Zodi and Karim Tanko who are still awaiting trial on trumped-up charges after nearly four months in detention.’’ 

Background

A court in Niger’s capital Niamey today delivered its verdict in the trial of a group of activists charged with “organizing and participating in a banned demonstration”, “instigating violence and assault” and “destruction of property", handing them three-month suspended sentences.

The court found Ali Idrissa Nani, Nouhou Arzika, Moussa Tchangari, Ousseini Maina, Mamoudou Seyni and several protesters guilty over their involvement in a banned demonstration that went ahead in Niamey on 25 March 2018.  

A new case was brought against detained lawyer and human right defender Lirwana Abdourahamane on 12 July following a complaint by the chief investigating judge for “contempt of court by speaking” during an earlier hearing. Yesterday a court found Lirwana Abdourahamane guilty and sentenced him to one year in prison.