Public meetings and protests banned; activist arrested for defamation
#Niger @tlpniger en action@TournonsLaPage @TlpGuinee @TLPCI— Maikoul Zodi (@bougeangard) February 3, 2022
Plainte contre le Maire de la ville de Niamey
Audience à la cours de justice de laCEDEAO sur les restrictions des droits civiques
Meeting le vendredi 11 février 2022 à Niamey place de la concertation à partir de 15h pic.twitter.com/e3bPtMO6t6
Public meetings and protests banned
On 10th February 2022, local authorities in Niamey banned a public protest meeting of the pro-democracy movement Tournons la Page Niger(TLP), which was to take place the following day, on 11th February 2022. Authorities reportedly invoked health and security reasons for the ban. The group had notified the authorities of the planned meeting on 3rd February 2022. The protest action was organised, among others, to demand the release of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, justice for terrorism victims and against the presence of foreign military bases in the country.
On 3rd February 2022, the movement had filed a judicial complaint against the president of the municipal council, Oumarou Dogari, for "attack on freedom and refusal to execute a court decision”, as authorities in Niamey continue to ban TLP's protests and meetings, with decisions often made at the last minute and/or on Fridays, making it impossible to judicially dispute these decisions. On 23rd September 2021, a court in Niamey ruled that "the city of Niamey committed a fault by prohibiting the planned demonstration belatedly, on a Friday, the last working day, thus preventing the exercise of a remedy against the said decision". A previous planned protest, on 30th January 2022 was reportedly also banned from taking place. A complaint was also made before the regional ECOWAS Court of Justice. The hearing before the ECOWAS Court was postponed to 28th March 2022.
In another development, on 19th January 2022, authorities in Niamey prohibited a protest of civil society group Mouvement Nigérien pour la Promotion des peuples et de la Promotion de la Démocratie (MNPD; Nigerien Movement for the Promotion of people and the Promotion of Democracy), planned for 23rd January 2022. Authorities of the city of Niamey used the grounds of "security and health emergency, risk of infiltration and risk of disturbing public order" to ban the protest.
As reported several times on the Monitor, civil society protests are often banned in Niger.
#Niger: Selon @tlpniger, c'est pour avoir alerté sur un cas de viol présumé et dénoncé une incurie dans le traitement, que l'activiste #AhmedBello garde prison. Depuis quand dénoncer conduit en prison dans un État de Droit? Notre #justice a le devoir de se ressaisir. Au plus tôt. pic.twitter.com/3ng3bDGqFG— DSaidou (@DjibrilSaidou) March 17, 2022
Activist detained for defamation
On 10th March 2022, civil society activist and member of TLP, Ahmed Bello Issoufou, was arrested and placed under police custody after having been summoned and interrogated by the judiciary police. The arrest follows a defamation complaint by an official of the security and defence forces of Filingué, a town in the region of Tillabéri. A day before his detention, the activist had reportedly accused, on his Facebook page, the gendarmerie of "complicity" in cases of rape of students, allegedly by a teacher in Bonkoukou. The teacher was arrested, reportedly after a complaint by one of the students, but released a few days later.
The case against the HRD was dismissed on 22nd March 2022 as the court ruled that the charges against Issoufou were unfounded. The activist was subsequently released from the Central Prison of Niamey.