The cybercrime law was revised to improve protection of freedom of expression. Freedom of association was threatened by new legislation. Military forces and armed groups committed human rights violations and abuses. Women and girls continued to suffer discrimination. The rights of migrants and detainees were violated. The armed conflict fuelled food insecurity for people living in affected areas.
Niger faced ongoing armed conflicts in its western and south-eastern regions with the presence of armed groups including Islamic State in the Sahel (ISS), Group of Support for Islam and Muslims, and Boko Haram. The redeployment of the French military in Niger, after its withdrawal from Mali, was approved by a parliamentary vote in April, leading to protests in Niamey. The humanitarian situation remained critical, with around 200,000 internally displaced people due to the conflicts.
Freedom of expression
On 3 January, Niamey High Court sentenced journalists Samira Sabou and Moussa Aksar under the 2019 cybercrime law, to one-month and two-month suspended prison sentences respectively, for relaying the conclusions of a May 2021 report by the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime.1 According to the report, a huge quantity of drugs seized by the authorities was subsequently bought back by the traffickers.
Niger revised its 2019 cybercrime law in June to conform with international human rights standards, by removing jail sentences for defamation and insults by way of electronic communications and replacing them with fines.
Freedom of association and assembly
In February, the authorities promulgated a new decree (number 2022-182 of 24 February 2022) governing the work of NGOs, severely limiting the autonomy of NGOs working in Niger. Article 41 warranted all programmes and projects initiated by NGOs to be approved by the government; other articles imposed administrative hurdles and required NGOs’ objectives to conform with the government’s national priorities for them to continue their activities in Niger.
In August, a planned demonstration against the presence of foreign military forces in the country, organized by a coalition of several civil society groups called M62, was banned by the authorities.
Right to truth, justice and reparation
In May, the authorities closed the investigation into the deaths of three individuals in November 2021 during the blockade of a French military convoy in Téra by violent protesters. The investigation concluded that it could not determine who was responsible for the deaths of the three protesters and the wounding of 18 others, but recommended the payment of financial compensation to the victims and their families by the French and Niger authorities.
Women’s and girls’ rights
Women continued to be discriminated against by law and cultural practices: 76% of girls were married before their 18th birthday, according to the Ministry for the Promotion of Women and Child Protection. Niger maintained reservations about certain provisions of the CEDAW, and national legislation still discriminated in the areas of marriage, divorce, inheritance and land ownership.
Detainees’ rights were violated, especially at the maximum-security Koutoukalè detention centre. The right to health was denied to many detainees, including access to a doctor, and the right to receive visitors was restricted. Families were prevented from delivering food, medicines and drinking water to detainees. On 7 March, Colonel Hamadou Djibo, who was arrested following the coup attempt of March 2021, wrote a public letter denouncing his ill-treatment in detention and the slowness of the judicial procedure.2 A week later, the authorities began allowing family members to visit detainees in Koutoukalè.
Migrants’ and internally displaced people’s rights
Over the course of the year, thousands of migrants – including 14,000 between January and May – were violently expelled from Algeria to a place called “Point Zero” on the border with Niger. More than 70% of them testified that they had been subjected to violence and ill-treatment in Algeria, according to Doctors Without Borders. In June, the bodies of 10 migrants were found near the border with Libya. In September, around 2,100 people fled the internally displaced people’s camp in Kablewa, Diffa region, seeking refuge elsewhere following threats by Boko Haram combatants.
Unlawful attacks and killings
Armed groups in Tillabéri and the Lake Chad Basin areas carried out several attacks and killings, some of which were unlawful and could constitute war crimes. In February, according to the government, members of an armed group attacked a truck on its way to Tizigorou, Tillabéri region, causing the deaths of 18 civilians and wounding eight others. In March, at least 20 villagers were killed when five villages in the Diffa region were attacked by Boko Haram combatants from Nigeria, according to media sources. Also in March, in Tillabéri, at least 19 civilians were killed in an attack, attributed to ISS, that targeted a traders’ convoy near Petelkole town, according to the Ministry for Public Safety.
In February, a strike by the Nigerian army killed seven children and wounded five people in Nachade, Maradi region. The strike was targeting bandits, according to the governor of Maradi.
In October, the army was accused of unlawfully killing artisanal gold miners in Tamou in air strikes, following an attack by an armed group against a police station that killed two police officers and wounded one. The government denied any unlawful killings and announced that seven combatants were killed and 24 wounded in a communiqué. In December, the National Human Rights Commission announced after investigations that the airstrike targeted the arms depot of an armed group not far from the mining site, which killed 11 individuals and was followed by a mop-up operation that wounded 25 individuals including civilians.
Right to food and water
The conflict and the resulting displacement of people heightened food insecurity and shortages of water. Drought and floods also reduced agricultural yields. According to government data, more than 4.4 million people were experiencing food insecurity – almost 20% of the population.
Shortages of food and water affected internally displaced people, especially children. Girls suffered additionally by being removed from school by their families or being forced into early and/or forced marriage.