Global civil society alliance CIVICUS welcomes the decision by Nigerien authorities to release three human rights defenders after six months in detention. We now call on the Nigerien authorities to drop all charges against them. Moudi Moussa, Halidou Mounkaila and Maïkoul Zodi were among civil society members who gathered peacefully in Niamey, on 15 March 2020, to protest about corruption in the Ministry of Defence.
The three human rights defenders are featured in CIVICUS’s #StandAsMyWitness campaign, launched in July 2020 to highlight the plight of persecuted and detained human rights defenders around the world, and call for their release. Niger was placed on the CIVICUS Monitor Watch List in June due to increased restrictions on civic space.
On 29 September 2020, Maïkoul Zodi was granted bail by a senior judge in Niger’s capital, Niamey. The following day, his colleagues Moudi Moussa and Halidou Mounkaila were also granted bail. The human rights defenders were released following coordinated advocacy by several national and international civil society organisations, including CIVICUS.
“We welcome the release of Moudi Moussa, Halidou Mounkaila and Maïkoul Zodi but we repeat our call to the Nigerien authorities to stop persecuting human rights defenders and journalists. As elections approach, the Nigerien authorities should create an enabling environment for civil society and members of the political opposition - they should be allowed to express their views without fear of reprisals,” said David Kode, CIVICUS Advocacy and Campaigns Lead.
Since the start of the year, the Nigerien authorities have targeted human rights defenders and journalists and subjected them to arbitrary arrests and judicial persecution. In March 2020, several civil society representatives were arrested for participating in protests against corruption at the Ministry of Defence. Journalists have been summoned for questioning over publications in the media and the authorities imposed a ban on all protests earlier this year.
For more information on civic space violations, visit the Niger country page on the CIVICUS Monitor.