Continuing Deterioration of the Situation in Niger: Urgent Need for a Lasting Response to the Crisis

Press release
en fr

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its member organisation in Niger, the Association nigérienne de défense des droits de l’Homme (ANDDH) denounce the continuing deterioration of the political and security situation in Niger and condemn the human rights violations perpetrated especially by security forces. Our organisations call on the international community, in particular the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) which has planned to hold an extraordinary summit on September 5, 2009, to take all necessary measures to urgently respond to the crisis.

Since the constitutional referendum held on August 4, 2009, in spite of the fact that it had been declared unlawful by the Constitutional Court [1], the curent regime is marred with arbitrary arrests and detentions, judicial harassment, violent repression of opposition parties demonstrations and violations of fundamental freedoms. Thus, for having denounced this referendum, members of the civil society such as Marou Hamadou [2] or Wada Maman [3] have been arbitrarily arrested and detained and are still facing legal proceedings. On August 30, 2009, violences have erupted between security forces and former deputies who wanted to reinstate themselves in Parliament, in protest over its dissolution on May 26, leading to the wounding of many people. The week before, a demonstration which had been organised in Niamey on the initiative of opposition parties had resulted in the arrest and detention of 157 persons, not only in Niamey but also in other towns. Among them, 67 are still facing legal proceedings.

«This deterioration of the situation is a direct consequence of the rupture of democracy which arised after the dissolution on May 26, 2009 of the National Assembly and which has been concretised after the promulgation of a new Constitution allowing the President Tandja to stay in power» declared Souhayr Belhassen, President of FIDH.

«The international community must not remain indifferent to the current crisis in Niger. Strong measures should be taken to favour the return to democracy in this country. The respect of Nigerien’s fundamental rights and the safeguard of peace and security in the sub-region depend on these measures» she added.

On September 5, 2009, ECOWAS Heads of State and Government are to meet in Abuja, Nigeria, on the occasion of an extraordinary summit. This organisation, which decided to engage a constructive dialogue between all Nigerien actors and which called on the governement of Niger to «create an atmosphere conducive for the restoration of a democratic governance vis-a-vis the respect for the rule of law» should seize this opportunity to go farther and take all necessary measures to put an immediate end to this crisis, including by adopting sanctions, in accordance with the provisions of article 45 of its Protocol on democracy and good governance.

FIDH and ANDDH call on the other actors of the international community, in particular the African Union, the United Nations and the International Organisation of French speaking countries to put the resolution of the situation in Niger at the top of their agenda, pursuant to their instruments on the respect of democracy and the rule of law.

Once more, FIDH and ANDDH call on the authorities of Niger to authorise peaceful demonstrations and urge security forces to act in accordance with the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. They could indeed be held responsible in the case of unlawful and disproportionate use of force. Our organisations call on the authorities to guarantee the physical and moral integrity of Human Rights Defenders and to put an end to all kinds of harrassment, including judicial, against them.

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