Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 July 2014, 15:15 GMT

National conference could herald start of new era for Niger's media

Publisher Reporters Without Borders
Publication Date 1 April 2010
Cite as Reporters Without Borders, National conference could herald start of new era for Niger's media, 1 April 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4bc2cd2d1a.html [accessed 31 July 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.

Reporters Without Borders hopes that a three-day national conference on the media that ended yesterday in Niamey will help to restore press freedom in Niger and establish a new relationship between its government and news media.

"Niger's media have just lived through several grim years under authoritarian rulers who despised them," Reporters Without Borders said. "We therefore hope that this national conference, coming shortly after a change of regime, will mark the beginning of a new era for the media."

The press freedom organisation added: "We welcome the reopening of the Niamey Press Club and the proposed press law decriminalising press offences. We nonetheless hope that these moves will lead to a concrete improvement in the climate in which journalists work."

The military government announced the reopening of the Niamey Press Club on 29 March, the first day of the conference. It was closed by the preceding government in the summer of 2008.

"The truth has been restored and an injustice has been set right," Niamey Press Club president Abdourahamane Ousmane told Reporters Without Borders. "The closure interrupted the momentum we had developed since the Press Club's launch. We now hope to revive its activities and recover our peace of mind."

The draft press law that was debated and approved by the conference's participants abolishes prison sentences for journalists.

"The proposed press law reform clearly represents a step forward but, before it is adopted, the new authorities must ensure that the fines for journalists and news media are not excessive," Reporters Without Borders said. "They must also ensure that journalists really are protected from imprisonment and are not exposed to the possibility of being jailed under any of the criminal code's provisions. If that were the case, then this reform would be illusory."

The national conference on the media was originally due to have been held on 25-27 February, but was postponed after a military coup overthrew President Mamadou Tandja on 18 February.

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