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Human rights defenders arrested in relation to protests

Status: 
Detained in communicado
About the situation

On 24 July 2018, the High Court of Niamey passed down three-month suspended prison sentences to Ali Idrissa, Moussa Tchangari, Nouhou Arzika and Lirwana Abdourahmane for “provocation of an unarmed gathering through posters and writings”.

On 10 July 2018, the trial of human rights defenders Ali Idrissa, Moussa Tchangari, Nouhou Arzika and Lirwana Abdourahmane began before the High court of Niamey. They have been detained for more than 3 months in separate prisons, far from their families.

On 25 March 2018, human rights defenders Ali Idrissa, Moussa Tchangari, Nouhou Arzika and Lirwana Abdourahmane were arrested by security forces in Niamey, Niger, in relation to a demonstration organised by civil society to demand the repeal of the 2018 Finance Law.

About Ali Idrissa

hrd_ali_idrissa.jpegAli Idrissa is the Coordinator of Réseau des organisations pour la transparence et l'analyse budgétaire (Network of Organisations for Budgetary Transparency and Analysis – ROTAB) and Publish What You Pay Niger (PWYP). He is also a member of the Board of Directors and the Africa Steering Committee of PWYP. He has long campaigned on issues of transparency in the mining sector.

31 August 2018
Ali Idrissa, Nouhou Arzika and Moussa Tchangari detained in communicado

On 29 August 2018, upon arrival in Agadez, Niger, Ali Idrissa, Nouhou Arzika and Moussa Tchangari were stopped at the airport and prevented from leaving. When they attempted to board a plane back to their original destination, they were prohibited from doing so, though airport police did not produce any official documentation justifying such action. The defenders were later arrested at approximately 7 p.m. and transferred to a hotel under police escort. They remain detained incommunicado in the hotel under heavy surveillance.
 

25 July 2018
Three-month suspended sentence for human rights defenders arrested in relation to protests

On 24 July 2018, the High Court of Niamey passed down three-month suspended prison sentences to Ali Idrissa, Moussa Tchangari, Nouhou Arzika and Lirwana Abdourahmane for “provocation of an unarmed gathering through posters and writings”. Having already spent four months in detention, Ali Idrissa, Moussa Tchangari and Nouhou Arzika were released that same evening. None of the four human rights defenders participated in protest to which the charges relate.

On 23 July, the High Court of Niamey found Lirwana Abdourahamane guilty of “contempt of court by speaking during the 10 July 2018 hearing”. The defender was sentenced to two years imprisonment, one of which is suspended. He remains in detention and intends to file an appeal.

Front Line Defenders regrets the fact that Ali Idrissa, Moussa Tchangari and Nouhou Arzika were ever detained in the first place, especially in relation to a peaceful protest in which they did not take part. Front Line Defenders further expresses serious concern over the verdict passed against Lirwana Abdourahmane, which it believes is solely a result of his legitimate and peaceful work defending human rights in Niger.

11 July 2018
Trial of HRDs arrested in relation to protests begins

On 10 July 2018, the trial of human rights defenders Ali Idrissa, Moussa Tchangari, Nouhou Arzika and Lirwana Abdourahmane began before the High court of Niamey. They have been detained for more than 3 months in separate prisons, far from their families.

Ali Idrissa is the Coordinator of Réseau des organisations pour la transparence et l'analyse budgétaire (Network of Organisations for Budgetary Transparency and Analysis – ROTAB) and Publish What You Pay Niger (PWYP). He is also a member of the Board of Directors and the Africa Steering Committee of PWYP. He has long campaigned on issues of transparency in the mining sector. Moussa Tchangari is a journalist and General Secretary of Alternative Espace Citoyens (Alternative Citizens' Space - AEC), a non-governmental organisation which, for many years, has been dedicated to promoting social, economic and cultural rights, particularly through the use of radio broadcasts. Nouhou Arzika, President of Mouvement patriotique pour une citoyenneté responsable (Patriotic Movement for Responsible Citizenship - MPCR), is a civil society actor in Niger, particularly vocal on consumer rights. Lirwana Abdourahmane is a member of MPCR and a lawyer .

During the hearing, the public prosecutor requested a sentence of three years’ imprisonment and a 100,000 XOF (Approx. 152 euro ) fine for Moussa Tchangari, Ali Idrissa and Nouhour Arzika. A one year sentence and 100,000 XOF (approx. 152 euro) fine was requested for Lirwana Abdourahamane. The decision is due to be rendered on 24 July 2018. Although the human rights defenders did not participate in the march in question, they have been charged with “organisation and participation in a prohibited demonstration”, “complicity in violence”, “assault” and “destruction of property”. A total of 24 people appeared before the High Court in relation to the case.

The trial, which was originally scheduled to take place on 3 July, had been postponed until 10 July after the defendants failed to appear in court. No reason was given by the public prosecutor to justify their absence at the hearing.

On 25 March 2018, Ali Idrissa, Moussa Tchangari, Nouhou Arzika and Lirwana Abdourahmane were arrested by security forces in connection with a protest organised to demand the repeal of the 2018 Finance Law, which civil society organisations argue would drastically increase the cost of living and violate the right to an adequate standard of living for many already living in poverty. The human rights defenders were arrested at different times throughout the day, despite the fact that none of them had participated in the march.

Front Line Defenders expresses serious concern over the arrest, detention and trial of human rights defenders Ali Idrissa, Moussa Tchangari, Nouhou Arzika, Lirwana Abdourahmane which it believes is solely a result of their legitimate and peaceful work in defending human rights in Niger.

28 March 2018
Human rights defenders arrested in relation to protests

On 25 March 2018, human rights defenders Ali Idrissa, Moussa Tchangari, Nouhou Arzika and Lirwana Abdourahmane were arrested by security forces in Niamey, Niger, in relation to a demonstration organised by civil society to demand the repeal of the 2018 Finance Law.

Download the Urgent Appeal

Ali Idrissa is the Coordinator of Réseau des organisations pour la transparence et l'analyse budgétaire (Network of Organisations for Budgetary Transparency and Analysis – ROTAB) and Publish What You Pay Niger (PWYP). He is also a member of the Board of Directors and the Africa Steering Committee of PWYP. He has long campaigned on issues of transparency in the mining sector. Moussa Tchangari is a journalist and General Secretary of Alternative Espace Citoyens (Alternative Citizens' Space - AEC), a non-governmental organisation which, for many years, has been dedicated to promoting social, economic and cultural rights, particularly through the use of radio broadcasts. Nouhou Arzika, President of Mouvement patriotique pour une citoyenneté responsable (Patriotic Movement for Responsible Citizenship - MPCR), is a civil society actor in Niger, particularly vocal on consumer rights. Lirwana Abdourahmane is a member of MPCR and a lawyer.

On 25 March 2018, Ali Idrissa, Moussa Tchangari, Nouhou Arzika and Lirwana Abdourahmane were arrested by security forces in connection with a protest organised to demand the repeal of the 2018 Finance Law, which civil society organisations argue would drastically increase the cost of living and violate the right to an adequate standard of living for many already living in poverty. The human rights defenders were arrested at different times throughout the day although none of them had participated in the march.

In a decree dated 23 March 2018, the President of the Special Delegation of the City of Niamey prohibited the demonstration for “obvious reasons of security …and with regards to the security context in Niger and in the sub-region, and furthermore, the recent terrorist attacks”. On the morning of the march, security forces based themselves at the meeting points for protestors and prevented many from taking part in the demonstration, they then used tear gas grenades to disperse protesters and arrested 23 people in total. Moreover, the television station run by the press group Labari was closed by the security forces who entered without presenting a warrant or a written notification from the Superior Council of Communication. As of 27 March 2018, security forces were still preventing people from entering the premises.

Although the human rights defenders did not participate in the march, they have been charged with organisation and participation in a prohibited demonstration, complicity in violence, assault and destruction of property and were indicted on all charges by the Court of First Instance of Niamey. Following the hearing, they were transferred to different prisons far away from their families.

On 29 October 2017, a demonstration organised to protest the then Finance Bill was also violently repressed by police, including the use of tear gas. On 30 October 2017, Abass Abdoul Aziz, Abdoulaye Harouna and Djibo Issa were arrested by local police officers The human rights defenders were released on 24 November 2017.

Front Line Defenders expresses serious concern over the arrest and detention of human rights defenders Ali Idrissa, Moussa Tchangari, Nouhou Arzika, Lirwana Abdourahmane which it believes is solely as a result of their legitimate and peaceful work in defending human rights in Niger.