Niger: Civil Society activists released after 4 months in prison, but challenges continue

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On Tuesday 24 July, fifteen members of civil society were released following their arrest and imprisonment four months ago for protesting against a new Finance Law in Niger. Of these fifteen, Ali Idrissa (Coordinator of PWYP Niger, Board member of Publish What You Pay, and Coordinator of the Niamey-based civil society organisation ROTAB), Moussa Tchangari (Secretary General of Alternative Espaces Citoyens) and Nouhou Arzika (President of Mouvement Pour la Promotion de la Citoyenneté Responsable) were each given a 3 month suspended sentence for “illegal assembly”. They will be released today as they have already served four months in prison since their arrest on the 25th March. The other fourteen activists were released without charge.

While Publish What You Pay welcomes the news that fifteen members will be released today, concerns remain about the state of civic space in Niger and ongoing persecution of members of civil society.

Six more activists – Abdou Salihou Halarou, Moctar Oumarou, Abdoul Djawel, Hamey Abdou Beidou, Hamza Haroun Abdoul Kader, Aminou Dayabou – remain in prison for two more months as they were each sentenced to six months in prison and each given an additional six months suspended sentence.

Four others – Maikoul Zodi, Ibrahim Diori, Karim Tanko, Maiwanzame Issoufou – remain in prison awaiting trial for protesting the 2018 Finance Law of Niger.

Lirwana Abdourahmane, also remains in prison after he was sentenced to 12 months plus 12 months suspended for “contempt of court”.

Publish What You Pay calls on the Government of Niger to expedite the trials or drop the charges against these individuals who remain in prison.

Publish What You Pay Executive Director Elisa Peter said:

“We applaud the Judiciary of Niger for the release of these social justice activists today. Yet PWYP condemns the arrest and intimidation of citizens, social justice activists, lawyers and journalists, some of whom are still in prison for their participation in a peaceful demonstration against the country’s new finance law. They must be released immediately. We also call on the Government of Niger to ensure the protection of fundamental liberties for all citizens, including freedoms of expression & peaceful assembly”

See below a list of statements released on the issue over the course of the four months since the arrests:

PWYP Africa Steering Committee to African Union: For the fight against corruption to be won, threats to civic space must be condemned

Niger: 25 May marks two months since 26 activists and civil society members have been detained

Joint Press Release: Niger – Diplomatic representatives must act for the immediate release of arrested human rights defenders

Open letter for the release of Human Rights Defenders in Niger

Africa Steering Committee of Publish What You Pay strongly condemns arrest of members in Niger

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