Attacks on the Press in 2005 - Snapshots: Niger
|Publisher||Committee to Protect Journalists|
|Publication Date||February 2006|
|Cite as||Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 2005 - Snapshots: Niger, February 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/47c5671fc.html [accessed 5 March 2015]|
In March, authorities harassed journalists and sought to suppress media coverage of strikes and protests organized by a coalition of civil society organizations against a new tax on basic commodities in this impoverished country. The country's interior minister appeared on state television to warn journalists against covering the coalition's activities.
By the end of March, five leaders of the Coalition Against Costly Living were behind bars, facing accusations of threatening state security after giving interviews on local radio stations criticizing the new tax. Police shuttered the offices of privately owned Radio Alternative for more than a week, possibly in connection with the detention of Moussa Tchangari, a leading member of the coalition who directs the station's parent company.
Starting in late April, authorities sought to repress local coverage of a developing nationwide famine for fear that the news would tarnish the country's image, according to the Media Foundation for West Africa. In early August, President Mamadou Tandja publicly denied the existence of famine in Niger, despite widespread media reports and a vast international aid campaign.
In September, a court in the northern town of Agadez convicted Abdoulaye Harouna, managing editor of the monthly Echos Express, of defaming the local governor, Yahaya Yendaka. He was sentenced to four months in jail and fined 520,000 CFA francs (US$950), but no arrest warrant was immediately issued to take him into custody. Harouna told CPJ that Yendaka filed a defamation suit against him after an article accused the governor of corruption in the distribution of food aid in the Agadez region during a nationwide food shortage.
The director of a private weekly was arrested in November and placed in preventive detention after State Treasurer Siddo Elhadj filed a criminal defamation suit against him. Salifou Soumaila Abdoulkarim of Le Visionnaire was convicted in December and sentenced to two months in jail. Elhadj brought the lawsuit over an article in Le Visionnaire that accused him of embezzling 17 billion CFA francs (US$30 million) in government funds.