The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called on the Government of Niger to put an end to the intimidation and harassment of journalists allegedly accused of broadcasting “false reports” since April 1, 2009.
“This is more nor less a deliberate attempt of harassing and intimidating the Dounia media group and Le Courier newspaper whose only wrong is to have organized a debate about the visit of French President, Nicholas Sarkozy and published articles considered to be defamatory”, declared Gabriel Baglo, Director of IFJ Africa Office.
On April 6 Ali Soumana, director of the newspaper “Le Courrier” was arrested and custody by the Criminal Investigative Division of the Police in Niamey where he is questioned for “disclosure of false reports and slandering” against Seyni Salou, Managing director of Société Nigérienne du Patrimoine des Eaux du Niger,a government company.
On April 1, 2009, the Director of the Dounia Press Group, Abibou Garba and the editor –in – chief, Seyni Amadou were arrested and held by the Criminal Investigative Division of the Police for "broadcasting false information". Abibou Garba and Seyni Amadou were temporarily released on April 3 and should appear before the court with a later date.
Following a debate broadcast on March 30, 2009 during the programme “le Cercle des confrères” which was devoted to the visit of Nicholas Sarkozy, a human rights militant, qualified the visit of the French President as a technical stopover aimed at plundering the natural resources of Niger in relation to Uranium exploitation.
In addition, the Group is to appear before the court on March 31, to answer to the charges of slandering, following a consecutive complaint of the parliamentarians to the critical declarations of a political party leader. The lawsuit was deferred to April 14.
The IFJ urges the authorities of Niger to put an end to all forms of Harassment and intimidation against the journalists and to rather reinforce self regulation and press freedom in the media in Niger.
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The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 123 countries worldwide