The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned the arrest of Ibrahim Soumana Gaoh, editor of the weekly independent newspaper, Le Temoin, on September, 20th 2009 by judicial police in Niamey.
“We denounce threats against press freedom and freedom of expression in Niger,” said Gabriel Baglo, Director of IFJ Africa Office. “Freedom of expression is an essential component of democracy as it provides the forum for pluralism in views. Journalists must be allowed to do their job safely,” he added.
Gaoh’s arrest followed a complaint for defamation lodged by the Nigerian Minister of Communication and Government’s spokesman, Mr. Mohamed Ben Omar, who claimed that he had been defamed by Le Temoin in their issue of September 14, 2009.
On September 14, 2009, in an article entitled “WASSOSSO A LA SONITEL” Ibrahim reported a story concerning the alleged implication of the minister in a serious financial embezzlement (amounting to between 400 and 800 million Franc CFA) at the National Telecommunications Company (SONITEL) which is under the supervision of the Ministry of Communication. Two former heads of the company have been in prison for several months.
On Wednesday, September 15, Ibrahim Soumana Gaoh appeared before the public prosecutor in Niamey without a lawyer. He was charged with defamation and remanded in custody. His trial for defamation will start on 29 September
On 1 August 2009, Abdoulaye Tiémogo, the editor of “Le Canard Déchaîné” newspaper, was sentenced to three months imprisonment for what the authorities described as “undermining a legal measure” .
IFJ calls for release of all the journalists imprisoned for press offences and urges the authorities in Niger to decriminalize these offences to enable media to flourish.
For more information contact the IFJ at +221 33 867 95 87
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 123 countries worldwide