Press release | July 18, 2018

While visiting Niger, EU President must act on jailed activists

Global Witness calls for EU Parliament President Antonio Tajani to demand the release of 28 jailed Nigerien activists as he meets with the President and Prime Minister of Niger.

“Today the President of the EU is posing for photos with a government who keeps its journalists and civil society actors in jail. If Tajani is serious about stability in Niger and promoting the values of the EU to the rest of the world, he must demand the Niger 28 are released immediately,” said Simon Clydesdale, Campaign Leader at Global Witness.

Starting in March, the Government of Niger began arresting activists whom it believes were involved in protests against the country’s new regressive tax law. These activists, who include prominent anti-corruption campaigner Ali Idrissa, are facing their fourth month in jail. 

This coming Tuesday four of the activists – Idrissa, Moussa Tchangar, Nouhou Arzika, and Lirwana Abdourahmane – are due to be sentenced, and are likely to receive lengthy jail sentences. The right to protest peacefully is protected under Niger’s constitution and international law.

Yesterday, US Senator Patrick Leahy issued a statement calling for the immediate release of the Nigerien activists and calling for the country’s international partners – including the EU and US – to do more.

The EU, however, has been silent on the treatment of Niger’s activists. Tajani is in Niger this week to “promote the growth of that country and to reduce migratory flows.” Yesterday Tajani met with Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou and today he meets with Prime Minister Brigi Rafini.

“Tajani should call upon President Issoufou and Prime Minister Rafini to immediately release all 28 activists who have been illegally detained” said Simon Clydesdale, Campaign Leader at Global Witness. “The situation could not be more critical.”



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