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(Aug 11, 2009) Two editors in the West African nation of Niger have been in custody at the main police station in the capital city of Niamey since August 1, 2009. The detentions follow reporting in their weekly newspapers on corruption charges involving the national human rights agency. The two men, Abdoulay Tiémogo, editor of LE CANARD DÉCHAÎNÉ, and Ali Soumana, of LE COURRIER, were arrested due to complaints filed by Niger's National Commission on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and by Justice Minister Garba Lompo, who had formerly been the head of the Commission. Tiémogo's publication had accused Lompo of misusing money allocated for a study of slavery in the country, a charge Lompo has denied. The second newspaper had alleged that the Commission misused CFA350 million (about US$760,000) intended for supervision of a referendum scheduled for August 4, on a constitutional amendment that would eliminate term limits. That charge has also been denied. (Press Release, Committee to Protect Journalists, Niger: Two Journalists Detained Ahead of Referendum (Aug. 3, 2009), available at http://allafrica.com/stories/200908040803.html; Niger: Constitutional Law - Referendum Scheduled for New Constitution, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR, June 12, 2009, available at http://www.loc.gov/lawweb/servlet/lloc_news?disp3_1348_text.)

The arrests have been described by Tom Rhodes of the Africa Program of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) as "part of a disturbing trend of harassment of independent journalists reporting on corruption in Niger." (Id.) CPJ, based in New York, describes itself as an "independent, nonprofit organization founded in 1981. … [to] promote press freedom worldwide by defending the rights of journalists to report the news without fear of reprisal." (Frequently Asked Questions, CPJ website, http://cpj.org/about/ (last visited Aug. 5, 2009).)

Earlier on August 1, the two editors and six other editors were questioned for a few hours by the police about the publication of a document concerning allegations that Niger's President's son received kickbacks on uranium mining profits. The editors were released without charge. (Press Release, supra; for information about other journalist arrests, see Niger: News Group Director Arrested, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR, Apr. 16, 2009, available at http://www.loc.gov/lawweb/servlet/lloc_news?disp3_1225_text.)

Author: Constance Johnson More by this author
Topic: Freedom of the press More on this topic
Jurisdiction: Niger More about this jurisdiction

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Last updated: 08/11/2009