Back to top

Judicial harassment against woman human rights defender Samira Sabou

Status: 
Judicial Harassment
About the situation

On 9 September 2021, woman human rights defender and journalist Samira Sabou appeared before the Tribunal de Grande Instance Hors Classe in Niamey. The woman human rights defender is being prosecuted for “defamation” and “diffusing information to disrupt public order” under the cyber crime law of 2019. Samira Sabou’s next hearing is scheduled for 4 October 2021.

On 3 January 2022, woman human rights defender and journalist Samira Sabou was sentenced to one month suspended imprisonment and a fine of approximately 76 euros. She was found guilty of “defamation” and “diffusing information to disrupt public order” under the 2019 Niger Cyber Crime law. The human rights defender’s lawyer has immediately filed an appeal.

About the HRD

Samira SabSamira Sabouou is a woman human rights defender, journalist and blogger from Niger. She is the president of Association des Blogueurs pour une Citoyenneté Active (Association of Bloggers for Active Citizenship – ABCA), which organises awareness-raising campaigns, alongside other organisations, to promote the role of women in the public arena and guarantee their right to freedom of expression in the media. She is also the administrator of the information website Magazine d'Information sur le Développement Economique et Social (Economic and Social Development Information Magazine – MIDES).

19 January 2022
Woman human rights defender Samira Sabou condemned to one month suspended imprisonnment

On 3 January 2022, woman human rights defender and journalist Samira Sabou was sentenced to one month suspended imprisonment and a fine of approximately 76 euros. She was found guilty of “defamation” and “diffusing information to disrupt public order” under the 2019 Niger Cyber Crime law. The human rights defender’s lawyer has immediately filed an appeal.

Samira Sabou is a woman human rights defender, journalist and blogger from Niger. She is the president of the Association des Blogueurs pour une Citoyenneté Active (Association of Bloggers for Active Citizenship – ABCA), which organises awareness-raising campaigns, alongside other organisations, to promote the role of women in the public sphere and guarantee their right to freedom of expression in the media. She is also the administrator of the information website Magazine d'Information sur le Développement Economique et Social (Economic and Social Development Information Magazine – MIDES).

On 26 May 2021, the woman human rights defender shared an article on her Facebook page which led to the current accusations. The article was published by the Global Initiative (GI-TOC), a Swiss NGO against transnational organised crime, regarding the Office Central de Répression du Trafic Illicite des Stupéfiants’ (OCRTIS) alleged reselling of drugs from illegal trafficking. Samira Sabou was charged together with journalist Moussa Aksar, who co-published the article at stake.

On 27 May 2021, Samira Sabou received a call from an anonymous individual who demanded her presence at OCRTIS. Later that day, about twenty police officers arrived at her home and attempted to arrest the woman human rights defender without a warrant. After forcefully entering her home, the police officers left the house, while OCRTIS officers arrived to arrest her. She was, without the presence of her lawyer, interrogated by OCRTIS officers in their officeand released later the same day.

On 9 September 2021, Samira Sabou appeared before the Tribunal de Grande Instance Hors Classe de Niamey facing charges of “defamation” and “diffusing information to disrupt public order” as defined by the 2019 Cyber Crime law. On 15 December 2021, an agreement between OCRTIS, the Public Prosecutor of the Republic of Niger, and the GI-TOC to withdraw the complaint was reached. However, the Public Prosecutor’s office did not honour its part of the agreement and instead of dropping charges, asked for a conviction at a public hearing on 27 December 2021.

On 10 June 2020, Samira Sabou was arrested in Niamey and charged with “defamation”, following a complaint by the son of the former President of the Republic of Niger, Sani Mahamadou Issoufou. Her arrest was linked to a post she published on social media on 26 May 2020, in which she referred to an audit of the Ministry of Defence regarding overcharging and embezzlement during the purchase of military equipment.  A defamation complaint was filed against her by Sani Mahamadou Issoufou following a comment from a reader below Samira Sabou’s post, wich criticised the President’s son in relation to the audit. Although Samira Sabou did not mention Sani Mahamadou in her post, she was arrested and detained for over a month at Niamey's civil prison, and her request for provisional release on the 16 June 2020 was denied. On 28 July 2020, the woman human rights defender was discharged by the High Court of Niamey on the grounds of ‘unconstituted offences’, and released the same day.

Front Line Defenders condemns the sentencing and continued judicial harassment of the woman human rights defender and journalist Samira Sabou. Front Line Defenders believes that she is being targeted solely due to her peaceful and legitimate work in defence of human rights.

13 September 2021
Judicial harassment against woman human rights defender Samira Sabou

On 9 September 2021, woman human rights defender and journalist Samira Sabou appeared before the Tribunal de Grande Instance Hors Classe in Niamey. The woman human rights defender is being prosecuted for “defamation” and “diffusing information to disrupt public order” under the cyber crime law of 2019. Samira Sabou’s next hearing is scheduled for 4 October 2021.

Download the urgent appeal.

Samira Sabou is a woman human rights defender, journalist and blogger from Niger. She is the president of Association des Blogueurs pour une Citoyenneté Active (Association of Bloggers for Active Citizenship – ABCA), which organises awareness-raising campaigns, alongside other organisations, to promote the role of women in the public arena and guarantee their right to freedom of expression in the media. She is also the administrator of the information website Magazine d'Information sur le Développement Economique et Social (Economic and Social Development Information Magazine – MIDES).

On 9 September 2021, Samira Sabou appeared before the Tribunal de Grande Instance Hors Classe de Niamey facing charges of “defamation” and “diffusing information to disrupt public order” as defined by the cyber crime law of 2019. On 26 May 2021, the woman human rights defender shared an article on her Facebook page which lead to the accusations. The article was published by the Global Initiative regarding the Office Central de Répression du Trafic Illicite des Stupéfiants (OCRTIS) alleged reselling of drugs it had seized from illegal trafficking. Samira Sabou was charged alongside journalist Moussa Aksar, who also shared the same article. The hearing comes after months of harassment against the woman human rights defender, during which she was summoned to appear in court and other judicial bodies on several occasions.

On 27 May 2021, Samira Sabou received a call from an anonymous individual who demanded that she present herself to l’Office Central de Répression du Trafic Illicite des Stupéfiants (OCRTIS). Later that day, about 20 police officers arrived at her home and attempted to arrested the woman human rights defender without a warrant. The police officers suddenly left after forcefully entering her home and officers of OCRTIS arrived to arrest her. She was interrogated by OCRTIS officers, without the presence of her lawyer and released later the same day.

On 10 June 2020, Samira Sabou was arrested in Niamey and charged with defamation, following a complaint by the son of the former President of the Republic of Niger, Sani Mahamadou Issoufou.

Her arrest was linked to a post she published on social media on 26 May 2020, in which she referred to an audit of the Ministry of Defence regarding overcharging and embezzlement during the purchase of military equipment. One of the comments below the post criticised the President’s son in relation to the audit, although Samira Sabou did not mention the son in her post. A defamation complaint was filed against her by Sani Mahamadou Issoufou, and she was arrested and detained for over a month at Niamey's civil prison, despite a request for provisional release on the 16th June which was denied. On 28 July 2020, the woman human rights defender was discharged by the High Court of Niamey on the grounds of ‘unconstituted offences’, and released the same day.

Front Line Defenders condemns the continued judicial harassment of the woman human rights defender and journalist Samira Sabou and believes that she is being targeted solely due to her peaceful and legitimate work in defence of human rights.