Niger : Charges must be dropped following release of three activists

Following yesterday’s court order to release three human rights defenders in Niger, Ousmane Diallo, Amnesty International West Africa Researcher, said:  

« We welcome the provisional release of Maikoul Zodi, Mounkaila Halidou and Moudi Moussa.  We are happy to see them finally reunite with their families, relatives and friends after more than six months in pre-trial detention, which we consider arbitrary.

We urge the authorities in Niger to now drop all charges against these activists. They must respect the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and put an end to the harassment and arbitrary detention of dissenting voices in the country.
Ousmane Diallo, Amnesty International West Africa Researcher

“We urge the authorities in Niger to now drop all charges against these activists. They must respect the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and put an end to the harassment and arbitrary detention of dissenting voices in the country.

“The protection of freedoms in Niger is especially important as the country heads towards elections in December this year. Amnesty International calls on the authorities to protect human rights, and ensure activists and human rights defenders can work without fear of reprisal.”

Background

The automatic provisional release granted to three human rights defenders in Niger was ordered on 29 September by a Niamey senior judge.  Maikoul Zodi, national coordinator of the Tournons la Page (TLP) movement, was subsequently released yesterday. Moudi Moussa, TLP leader in Niamey, and Mounkaila Halidou, Secretary General of the Nigerien teachers union, (SYNACEB) were released this morning. 

They were arrested for participating in protests in March 2020, and charged with manslaughter, complicity in damaging public property and arson. Security forces had repressed  the protests. Three people were killed.     

Maikoul Zodi, Mounkaila Halidou and Moudi Moussa were detained respectively in Ouallam (100 km from Niamey), Daikaina (111 km from Niamey) and Kollo (35 km from Niamey).

Amnesty International considers that the three were arbitrarily detained. The charges against them  were politically motivated and designed to silence civil society members, who have called for accountability for allegations of corruption within the Defence Ministry.

The human rights situation in Niger will be reviewed at the next session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (13 November-3 December 2020) and at the 38th session of the Universal Periodic Review of the UN Human Rights Council (3 May-14 May 2021).