News: Publish What You Pay Africa Steering Committee is concerned by the continued violation of human rights in Niger

The Republic of Niger has recently left the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in response to the suspension imposed to the country by the EITI Board. In the Nigerien authorities’ view, the EITI Board had interfered with Niger’s domestic policy regarding judicial matters involving civil society members.

We, the Africa Steering Committee of Publish What You Pay, are deeply concerned by the lack of commitment to the principles of the EITI demonstrated by the Government of Niger. As a member of the EITI, the government of Niger had knowledge of the initiative’s Civil Society Protocol and therefore of the requirement to guarantee a healthy environment for democratic debate on the management of the country’s natural resources. Nevertheless, in recent times, the government has adopted a policy of restricting fundamental freedoms towards its civil society in the run-up to Niger’s EITI validation by increasingly restraining NGO activities. Recently, we were outraged to learn that our colleague Mr. Abass Abdul Aziz Tanko, President of the Nigerien NGO ACTICE, and his colleagues Mr. Abdoulaye Harouna and Mr. Djibo Issa, were imprisoned during an authorised demonstration. While they have since been released, their NGO was dissolved last week by the Minister of the Interior.

These recent arrests and crackdown on NGOs are not isolated cases. In fact they indicate a broader negative trend in the country, and are evidence of Niger’s government lack of commitment to a transparent management of its natural resource wealth. The decision taken by the EITI Board was therefore legitimate and justified.

  • Expresses its solidarity with its colleagues and with the PWYP Coalition in Niger and vigorously denounces these practices that date back to another era and that do not honour our continent,
  • Demands that there is an end to intimidations towards civil society actors in Niger and that the Nigerien Government respects freedoms of expression and association,
  • Asks the Nigerien authorities to give the answers they owe to the Nigerien people regarding the suspension of Niger from the EITI and the subsequent withdrawal from the initiative. In addition, we encourage the Government to take the corrective measures recommended by the EITI so that the country can rejoin the initiative,
  • Calls on African state organisations, such as ECOWAS, UEMOA and the African Union, to strongly condemn the Nigerien government’s continuous repressive actions against civil society actors and to uphold citizens’ voices and basic freedoms,
  • Asks that all CSOs to condemn the Nigerien government’s actions and join us in urging it to quickly reinstate the status of the affected NGOs.
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