Niger: Politically motivated trial of journalist must end in her unconditional release


Responding to the announcement that the trial of Niger journalist and blogger Samira Sabou starts on 14 July, Kiné-Fatim Diop, Amnesty International’s West Africa Campaigner said:

“This case is politically motivated and an attempt to crush independent reporting in a country which has seen an intensifying crackdown on anyone speaking out about the alleged misuse of funds by the Ministry of Defence.

This case is politically motivated and an attempt to crush independent reporting in a country which has seen an intensifying crackdown on anyone speaking out about the alleged misuse of funds by the Ministry of Defence.
Kiné-Fatim Diop, Amnesty International’s West Africa Campaigner.

 

“The misuse of Niger’s cybercrime law under which Samira Sabou has been arrested increases the risk that other journalists will censor themselves and refrain from doing their legitimate work to avoid prosecution.

"Samira Sabou must be released immediately and unconditionally as she is detained solely for peacefully exercising her right to freedom of expression.

“All other human rights defenders who have been arrested on trumped-up charges, including Moudi Moussa, Halidou Mounkaila and Maïkoul Zodi, must also be released immediately.”

Background

Samira Sabou, a journalist with Mides Niger website and President of the Niger bloggers association, was charged on 10 June with defamation by means of electronic communication and immediately transferred to Niamey prison in the country’s capital. Her trial starts on 14 July.

Sani Mahamadou Issoufou, son of the President of Niger and deputy chief of staff of the Presidency, filed a complaint against Samira Sabou after a Facebook user mentioned on 26 May his name in a comment responding to Samira’s publication relating to allegation of corruption. Samira Sabou did not mention Sani Mahamadou Issoufou’s name. She should have never been prosecuted for these allegations of defamation and detained.

Journalist Ali Soumana, owner of ‘’Le Courrier’’ newspaper has been arrested and taken into custody since 12 July. His arrest is believed to be linked to the publication of a story on the alleged misuse of funds by the Ministry of Defence. This is the third time in less than four years that Ali Soumana has been harassed while carrying out his journalist work.

For nearly two years, journalists and human rights activists in Niger have been the target of repeated arbitrary arrests. Since 15 March, activists Moudi Moussa, Halidou Mounkaila and Maïkoul Zodi were detained mainly on the basis of fabricated allegations, after calling for an investigation into the alleged misuse of funds by the Ministry of Defence.