News: PWYP and OSIWA call for the immediate release of arrested activists in Niger

Update – All arrested activists were freed on Friday evening, but they will be summoned by a judge this week. We remain vigilant.

The Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) and Publish What You Pay (PWYP) calls on the Nigerien authorities to immediately release ROTAB activists currently under detention and to cease the harassment of civil society, including recently released Mr. Ali Idrissa.

Publish What You Pay and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa condemns the arrest of Ali Idrissa, ROTAB and PWYP Niger coordinator, taken from his home by Nigerien police at 04:00 am this morning. Several other members of ROTAB – and of other civil society organisations like Gren Initiative – were arrested later the same morning. These arrests followed yesterday’s press conference where Mr. Idrissa discussed AREVA’s recent deal with Niger and the visit of the French President François Hollande to West Africa. On behalf of civil society, Idrissa had called on AREVA, the French state-owned nuclear giant, to respect Niger’s laws and he denounced aspects of the France – Niger relationship as neo-colonial. Mr. Idrissa had been briefly arrested yesterday, immediately after the conference, but released the same day.

The French President Hollande was in Niamey today as part of his tour of West Africa.

Ali Idrissa was released earlier today, but he has been told that once Hollande’s visit is over, the authorities will take him before a judge.

Nigerien civil society has long campaigned on issues of transparency and accountability in their country’s natural resource sector. Ali Idrissa is on the International Board of EITI (Extractive Transparency Industry Initiative) and was named Niger’s man of the year in 2013. Most recently, ROTAB, the organization Idrissa heads, led a campaign to ensure that Niger get a fair deal for its uranium in the country’s renegotiation of their contract with AREVA. Niger is an EITI implementing country and had enshrined the principle of the transparency of its natural resources in its 2010 constitution.

The Open Society Initiative for West Africa and Publish What You Pay call upon the Government of Niger for the immediate and unconditional release of all members of civil society who were arrested this morning and urge respect for all human rights guaranteed in the Nigerien constitution, including freedom of expression and association.

The names of activists still in custody:

Ms Solli Ramatou (GREN)

Ms Naomi Stansley (ROTAB)

Mr Maikoul Zodi (ROTAB)

Mr Halidou Mounkaila (Membre CA ROTAB)

Mr Mato (MPCR)

Mr Boubacar illiassou (Rotab)

Mr Yaou (Gardien siege ROTAB)

Ibrahim Naimayou

Bozari Boubacar (GREN)

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For more information, please contact:

Dr. Ibrahima Aidara, OSIWA Economic Governance Program Manager; iaidara@osiwa.org + 221 33 869 1089

Alice Powell, Communications Coordinator Publish What You Pay; apowell@publishwhatyoupay.org + 44 7789 281 549

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