Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2007 - Niger
|Publisher||International Federation for Human Rights|
|Author||Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders|
|Publication Date||19 June 2008|
|Cite as||International Federation for Human Rights, Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2007 - Niger, 19 June 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/486466757.html [accessed 22 July 2014]|
In 2007, Niger witnessed an appeasement of its social situation, particularly following the signing in February 2007 of a comprehensive agreement putting an end to the severe food crisis of 2005, which had led to a surge in prices and a profound economic and social crisis, as a result of financial adjustment measures decided by the authorities.1 The agreement was signed by the Government of Niger and the Coalition Against the High Cost of Living (Coalition contre la vie chère), which gathers associations from civil society, under the direction of the National Commission for Social Dialogue (Commission nationale de dialogue social – CNDS). Several essential goods and services, such as water, electricity, health care, gas and fuel, experienced increases in price, sometimes up to 50% of the original cost.
However, February 2007 also saw the creation of an armed group, the Nigerian Movement for Justice (Mouvement des Nigériens pour la justice – MNJ), which calls for the respect of the 1995 agreements signed by the Government2 and a better distribution of wealth, including income from uranium, as well as accompanying measures for families displaced because of the exploitation of the uranium deposits. The MNJ has carried out several attacks on Government targets in the north of the country, and clashes with security forces have resulted in numerous deaths. In addition, the Nigerian army has been reportedly responsible for numerous summary executions of civilians during reprisals to attacks by the MNJ.
The year 2007 was also marked by an upsurge in attacks on freedom of expression. The conflict zone in the Agadez region has been forbidden for journalists since August 2007, and several foreign and local journalists who have attempted to obtain and disseminate information on the rebellion have been arrested this year. For example, Mr. Moussa Kaka, a correspondent for Radio France Internationale and Director of the privately owned Radio Saraouniy, has been detained since September 20, 2007. He is accused of "complicity in plotting against the authority of the State" for having had regular contacts with the MNJ. Another journalist, Mr. Ibrahim Manzo Diallo, Editor of the bimonthly private publication Aïr Info, published in Agadez, was also indicted on October 29 for "criminal association" because of his alleged links with the rebellion. In late 2007, he was still detained in the Agadez civil prison.
Impossibility to denounce violations taking place in the northern conflict
In Niger, non-governmental organisations that denounce the serious human rights violations caused by the conflict and call for peace through negotiations instead of a military solution suffered threats and intimidation. Thus, throughout August 2007, the Niger Association for the Defence of Human Rights (Association nigérienne pour la défense des droits de l'Homme – ANDDH) and its leaders, as well as several other members of human rights organisations, such as Alternative Citizens' Spaces (Alternative espaces citoyens), the Collective of Organisations Defending Human Rights and Promoting Democracy (Collectif des organisations de défense des droits de l'Homme et de promotion de la démocratie – CODDHD), the Network of Development Agencies and Organisations of Defence of Human Rights and Democracy (Réseau des organisations de développement et de défense des droits de l'Homme et de la démocratie – RODDAD), the Collective of Organisations Defending the Right to Energy (Collectif des organisations de défense du droit à l'énergie – CODAE), the Coalition for Transparency in the Extractive Industries "Publish What You Pay," (Coalition pour la transparence dans les industries extractives "publiez ce que vous payez") and the Network of Organisations for Transparency and Fiscal Analysis (Réseau des organisations pour la transparence et l'analyse budgétaire ROTAB), received threatening e-mails from unidentified authors.
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders is a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH).
1 Accusations of State responsibility for the surge in prices in 2005 resulted in repression against protest leaders, notably through arbitrary detention and acts of harassment against some of them.
2 The Peace Agreements of 1995 put an end to the revolt of the first rebellions of the 1990s in the north. They provided for the socio-economic reintegration of the Tuareg and the priority hiring of indigenous local mining companies as well as the redistribution of income from mining in the region.