Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch Urge Niger’s Military Rulers to Uphold Human Rights and Free Detainees

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, two prominent human rights organizations, have jointly called on Niger’s military rulers to release all individuals they consider to be arbitrarily detained within the country and to ensure the unhindered operation of a free press. In a statement issued on Thursday, these organizations emphasized the fundamental importance of freedom of expression, dissent, and media freedom in safeguarding other rights and holding the government accountable.

 

Ilaria Allegrozzi, a senior Sahel researcher at Human Rights Watch, stressed the necessity for the authorities to put an end to arbitrary detentions and respect human rights while upholding media freedom. The call for action from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch comes in the wake of a political upheaval in Niger, with the ousting of President Mohamed Bazoum following a coup in July.

 

The ousted leader, along with his wife and son, has been held at the presidential residence since the coup. Moreover, several ministers from the previous government have also been incarcerated, with Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch deeming these detentions politically motivated and thus arbitrary.

 

Both local and international journalists in Niger have faced threats, online harassment, and physical attacks, making it increasingly challenging for them to carry out their work independently and fearlessly. The organizations cited the case of Samira Sabou, a Nigerien journalist who was recently charged with “production and dissemination of data likely to disturb public order” and detained for almost two weeks before being released on bail.

 

The military authorities in Niger have taken additional steps to suppress free press, suspending the operations of French broadcasters Radio France Internationale (RFI) and France 24 since early August. As a result, self-censorship has become a survival tactic for many journalists in Niger, as they grapple with the limitations imposed on their profession.

 

The situation in Niger has grown increasingly volatile, with physical violence reported on the streets of Niamey, perpetrated by supporters of the new rulers. Amnesty International’s Ousmane Diallo, a Sahel researcher at the regional office for West and Central Africa, underscored the critical juncture at which Niger finds itself, emphasizing the urgent need for respect of human rights.

 

In response to the coup and the deteriorating human rights situation in Niger, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has issued a warning that it may intervene militarily if diplomatic efforts to restore Bazoum to power fail. The international community is closely monitoring the unfolding events in Niger and remains deeply concerned about the state of human rights and freedom of the press in the country.

 

In conclusion, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have called for the immediate release of arbitrarily detained individuals, the preservation of media freedom, and the respect of human rights in Niger. The situation in the country is precarious, with political turmoil and rights violations putting the international community on alert. The outcome of this crisis will have far-reaching consequences for the future of democracy and human rights in Niger.

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