Niger: At the Halfway Point in the Transition Process, Momentum must be Maintained to Ensure that it Remain Inclusive and Consensual in the lead up to the Elections

Press release
en fr

Niamey, Paris, June 15, 2010 – Thanks to an eight-day mission undertaken in Niger, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), in collaboration with its member organisation, the Association Nigérienne pour la défense des droits de l’Homme (ANDDH), have been able to assess the positive steps already made and the efforts which still need to be done by the actors of the transition, to place the respect of human rights at the heart of the transition agenda and to achieve the organisation of free and democratic general elections in early 2011.

This mission, which findings will be detailed in a forthcoming report, has allowed the FIDH and the ANDDH to meet representatives of the transitional institutions, government, civil society and political parties, but also of the defunct VI Republic of President Mamadou Tandja. Our organisations are among the few which have been authorised to meet with Tandja and his Minister of Interior, Abouba Albada, both in extra-judicial detention. In the interviews given to the delegation, with representatives of the junta, the two men said they were “treated well and in good health”.

While reiterating their condemnation of the February 18 Coup d’Etat, contrary to the principles of the Constitutive Act of the African Union and to the instruments for the protection of human rights, our organisations would like to acknowledge the efforts made by the actors of the transition concerning the respect of human rights. Our organisations have not notice any case of systematic violations of civil liberties and can only welcome some major advances that have occurred during the mission, such as the decriminalisation of press offenses. Our organisations welcome the establishment of a twelve-month timetable for the transition, which deadlines have been met to date. Our organisations also welcome the commitment of the head of the junta, Mr. Salou Djibo, to give back the power to civilians by March, 1st 2011.

If the FIDH and the ANDDH also stress the consensual quality of the institutions set up by the transition, they wish to draw attention to the lack of representativeness of political parties and human rights organisations within the National Consultative Council (CCN) and the low solicitation of the National Council of Political Dialogue (Conseil National du Dialogue Politique – CNDP). At the beginning of an electoral marathon and of discussions on the fundamental texts (Constitution, Charter of political parties, etc..), this lack of representativeness could affect the quality and inclusiveness of the process.

The FIDH and the ANDDH also remain vigilant about the running process being told the "cleaning up", aimed at auditing the finances of some ministries and investigating the management of public properties. Our organisations call on the compliance with regional and international human rights standards and principles and on the fair trial of any alleged responsible.

The FIDH and the ANDDH recommend the actors of the transition to:

* Maintain an inclusive and consensual transition, including by putting the Prime Minister at the head of the CNDP ;

* Maintain the progressive provisions contained in the draft Constitution, in particular those concerning public liberties and the suppression of amnesty for perpetrators of the January 27, 1996 and April 9, 1999 Coups d’État ;

* Initiate a regular judicial proceeding against President Tandja and the Minister Abouba, and guarantee their right to a fair and transparent trial, in particular their right to be freely defended, Or to release them in the absence of any charge and proceedings against them ;

The FIDH and the ANDDH recommend donors to:

* Adopt a "roadmap" with the Niger authorities which, whenever there is a compliance with the timetable established, should encourage the process through the release of funds, whilst avoiding the invocation of the food crisis and its related financial consequences as a pretext for any delays in the timetable. Our organisations recommend the European Union to follow-up the dialogue started with the Nigerian authorities and to conform the roadmap already adopted with the above recommendations.

Press contacts :Karine Appy/Fabien Maitre + 33 1 43 55 14 12 / + 33 1 43 55 90 19

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