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Amnesty International Report 1999 - Niger

Publisher Amnesty International
Publication Date 1 January 1999
Cite as Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 1999 - Niger, 1 January 1999, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aa12b.html [accessed 23 August 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

NIGER

Dozens of opposition party supporters were detained; some were prisoners of conscience. Several journalists and a publisher were briefly detained. All appeared to be prisoners of conscience; some were ill-treated. Several people were killed by the security forces in circumstances suggesting they had been extrajudicially executed. An armed opposition group was responsible for deliberate and arbitrary killings.

In July an agreement between the government of President Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara and the opposition ended the political deadlock stemming from the 1996 military coup that overthrew the government of elected President Mahamane Ousmane. The opposition parties agreed to participate in local elections which were postponed until 1999.

Niger acceded to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in October.

In January, three political opponents – including former Prime Minister Hama Amadou, Secretary General of the Mouvement national pour la société de développement, National Movement for the Society of Development – were detained for several days, accused of plotting to assassinate President Baré Maïnassara. Hama Amadou was eventually charged with "creating a militia" but he was not rearrested.

In April several local officials belonging to opposition parties were arrested following demonstrations in Maradi and Zinder. The demonstrations were among several organized by the opposition Front pour la restauration et la défense de la démocratie (FRDD), Front for the Restoration and Defence of Democracy, some of which ended in violence. The demonstrations in Maradi and Zinder had been organized to prevent a meeting of the ruling Rassemblement pour la démocratie et le progrès, Rally for Democracy and Progress. Both demonstrators and police were injured during clashes. Later the same month the police banned demonstrations and arrested dozens of people in Niamey; some were prisoners of conscience. All were provisionally released in June.

Several journalists and a publisher were briefly detained; all appeared to be prisoners of conscience. Some were ill-treated. In April unidentified gunmen raided the offices of the most prominent pro-opposition publishing house and tried to set them on fire. The publishing house was owned by Maman Abou, the director of the weekly newspaper Le Républicain. In May Maman Abou was arrested, accused of attempted arson and insurance fraud. He was believed to have been arrested solely for his opposition to the military government and for his human rights activities. He was a prisoner of conscience. He was provisionally released after 18 days.

In April Saadou Assane, a journalist on Le Républicain was attacked by members of the security forces while he was covering an opposition demonstration in Maradi. In May Moussa Tchangari, publishing director of the independent weekly newspaper L'Alternative, was arrested at the premises of the independent radio station, Radio Anfani. He had read out on air a protest against censorship and threats against journalists. Moussa Tchangari was beaten by members of the security forces during his arrest. Elhadj Oumarou Oubandawaki, an FRDD member, who was with him at the time of his arrest, was also detained and beaten. Both men were released without charge some days later. The radio station was subsequently closed down.

In September Bory Seyni, the publisher of the newspaper Le Démocrate, was whipped by the Minister of the Interior himself, Souley Abdoulaye. Bory Seyni's shirt was torn and his spectacles were broken during the whipping. This attack followed the publication of an article linking the Minister to alleged corruption.

Several people were killed by the security forces in circumstances suggesting they may have been extrajudicially executed. Members of the Presidential Guard killed four unarmed people, none of whom appeared to pose any threat, in front of their barracks. Among the victims were Atta Harouna, a student, who was shot in January as he approached the gate; and Lompo Tchiangnagou and Lompo Oumbouni who were shot dead in February as they drove past the barracks. None of these apparent extrajudicial executions was investigated.

In July an armed Toubou opposition group, the Front démocratique révolutionnaire, Democratic Revolutionary Front, was reportedly responsible for killing 15 villagers in the area of N'Guigmi.

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