24 May 2018
Niger: This 25 Maymarks two months in detention of 26 activists and civil society members
10 organisations call on authorities to stop their prosecutions andrelease them in order to ease the current tense situation
Two months after 26 civil society activists were arrested in peacefuldemonstrations against a new finance law in the capital, Niamey, Oxfam and AmnestyInternational are joining with eight NGOs to call on the authorities of Nigerto ease the situation by releasing the detainees and bring an end to the prosecutions.
The civil society activists were indicted on March 25 2018 for"organizing and participating in a prohibited demonstration","complicity in violence", "aggression" and"destruction of property and are jailed in various prisons in the country.The 26 arrested include three leaders of civil society organizations: MoussaTchangari, Alternative espace citoyen(Alternative citizen spaces); Ali Idrissa, Rotab; and Nouhou Arzika, Mouvement pour la promotion de lacitoyenneté responsable (Movement for the Promotion of ResponsibleCitizenship). Five other protesters including Ibrahim Diori (Alternative espace citoyen /Alternativecitizen spaces), Maïkoul Zodi (Tournonsla Page,) Abdourahamane Idé Hassane (Jeunessepour une mentalité nouvelle /Youth for a New Mentality) were later arrestedon April 15 and prosecuted for the same charges.
"This situation is of deep concern for internationalhuman rights and development organizations who believe that widening the civicspace does not impinge on the government, but instead allow citizens to engagein a constructive dialogue with the authorities,” said Adama Coulibaly, Oxfam West Africa Regional Director.
"The right of civil society organizations toengage in peaceful activities is protected by international law. These peopleplay a vital role in the protection and realization of human rights anddemocracy. They should not be seen as a threat, but rather as actors ofdialogue with whom the State should engage . "
The organizations call on the authorities in Niger to releaseimmediately these activists and to put an end on procesutions against them. Theauthorities should also enter without delay into a constructive dialogue withcivil society organizations about their right to protest on any matter of nationalinterest.
"Instead ofdeploying strategies to attack civil society activists and human rights defenders, the authorities in Niger shouldrecognize their legitimacy by respecting their work, providing them with thenecessary space for their activities, and protecting them against threats,” said SamiraDaoud, Amnesty International DeputyRegional Director for Wesst and Central Africa.
"In no case should Niger distinguish itself byreducing the space of civil society in West Africa. It is high time to releasethese detainees all arrested inconnection with the 2018 finance law protests," said Melanie Sonhaye Kombate of the West African Human Rights DefendersNetwork
2. Amnesty International
3. Front Line Defenders
4. Publiez Ce Que Vous Payez
5. Tournons La Page
6. FIDH, within the framework of the Observatory for theProtection of Human Rights Defenders" and World Organisation AgainstTorture (OMCT), within the framework ofthe Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
7. West Africa civil societyInstitute
8. Centre for civil and Political rights
10. West Africa Human Rights Defenders NetworkROADDH/WAHRDN
Contacts for media :
· Amnesty International : Sadibou Marong, Bureau régional Afrique del’Ouest et du Centre Tél: +221 77 658 62 27; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Front Line Defenders : Erin Kilbride, Attachée de presse, FrontLine Defenders
· Tél: +353 (0) 857423767 ; e-mail: email@example.com
· Oxfam : Aissatou Sall Tél: +221 77 223 43 89 ;e-mail :firstname.lastname@example.org
· Publiez Ce Que Vous Payez : Demba SEYDI Tel: (+221) 77 344 5959 ; e-mail: email@example.com
· Tournons La Page : Laurent Duarte, Tél: +33 650391783; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
· CCPR Centre : André Kangni Afanou Tel: 00 228 90 02 10 38 ; e-mail:email@example.com
· OMCT : DelphineReculeau : +41 22 809 49 39 firstname.lastname@example.org