U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1997 - Niger
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||30 January 1998|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1997 - Niger, 30 January 1998, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aa1b4c.html [accessed 13 October 2015]|
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, January 30, 1998.
NIGEROn January 27, 1996 a group of army officers led by then Colonel Ibrahim Mainassara Bare overthrew the elected government of Niger. The leaders of the coup d'etat quickly established a Military Council of National Salvation (CNS) and a subordinate interim cabinet. The CNS suspended the 1992 Constitution, dissolved the National Assembly, implemented a state of emergency, and temporarily prohibited political activity. Top civilian government leaders were put under house arrest. The Government subsequently organized a Constitutional Conference, held a referendum on the new Constitution, and conducted a seriously flawed presidential election, which was won by Bare. The November 1996 legislative elections were boycotted by the opposition. Progovernment parties and supporters claimed all 83 National Assembly seats. The judiciary remains subject to executive interference. Security forces consist of the army, the Republican Guard, the gendarmerie (paramilitary police), and the national police. The police and the gendarmerie traditionally have primary responsibility for internal security. However, since the coup, the army has had a much more prominent role. The 1996 coup was led by army officers with some support from the gendarmerie. Following the coup, members of all security forces committed human rights abuses. Security force members continued to commit abuses in 1997. The economy is based mainly on traditional subsistence farming, herding, small trading, and informal markets. Less than 15 percent of the economy is in the modern sector. Uranium is the most important export. Per capita income is about $260. Persistent drought, deforestation and soil degradation, low literacy, a flat uranium market, high import prices and burdensome debt further weakened the already troubled economy. Niger is heavily dependent on foreign assistance, and one of the aftermaths of the coup was a sharp fall in foreign aid, only partially reversed in 1997. The Government's human rights record remained the same, and serious problems remained in many areas. The 1996 coup and the fraudulent 1996 presidential election effectively disenfranchised citizens, preventing them from exercising the right to change their government. Security forces on occasion beat and intimidated opposition political figures and violated laws governing searches, treatment of prisoners, and length of detention. Prison conditions remained poor. The overloaded judicial system and delays in trials resulted in long periods of pretrial confinement. The Government continued to intimidate the private press and radio and arrested, detained, and mistreated journalists. The Government also passed a stringent new press law. The Government continued to ban peaceable meetings and demonstrations, although less often than in 1996. The Government restricted freedom of movement. Societal discrimination and domestic violence against women continued to be serious problems. Female genital mutilation persists. The Government restricts some worker rights.