News: PWYP Africa Steering Committee to African Union: For the fight against corruption to be won, threats to civic space must be condemned

PWYP Africa Steering Committee

25 March to 25 June 2018: Civil Society leaders in Niger are still imprisoned for having mobilised against a tax law that is deemed unfair and encourages corruption

Arrestation Ali Idrissa

The 31st Summit of the African Union (AU) will start on 25 June 2018 in Nouakchott, Islamic Republic of Mauritania. The theme of the Summit is the fight against corruption: “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation”

Publish What You Pay, a global network of civil society organizations working to promote good governance in the extractive industries sector, welcomes the importance given to the fight against corruption by African leaders on the occasion of the Summit of Heads of State and Government of the African Union.

According to OECD figures, one in five cases of transnational corruption occurs in the extractive industries sector (mining, oil and gas). The huge amount of money lost by resource-rich countries could be used to fund basic social services such as education or health, and be reinvested in the development of effective public services to address inequities. Instead, Africa loses more than US$ 50 billion a year due to illicit financial flows, according to the OECD’s report on illicit financial flows.

The fight against corruption that the African Union wants to prioritize can only be won if citizens can get involved and express themselves freely and fully on these issues. The African Union must take a firm stand on the growing and frequent attacks against citizen participation, a key element to promote transparency and accountability, and make this agenda a reality as soon as possible.

Indeed, the 25 June 2018 marks the three months detention of 26 members of the Nigerien civil society for having protested against the Finance Law adopted in November 2017 by the Nigerian Parliament to set the state budget in 2018. Since November 2017, citizens and civil society in Niger have continued to mobilise to express dismay over a law they deem unfair as it may provide a series of tax concessions to high level officials and thus facilite corruption.

Our civil society colleagues in Niger, including several leaders of organizations such as Mr Moussa Tchangari (Alternative espace citoyen); Mr Ali Idrissa (The Organisation for Transparency and Budget Analysis, ROTAB); Mr Nouhou Arzika (Patriotic Movement for Responsible Citizenship, MPCR) and Mr Abdramane Lirwana, a human rights lawyer, as well as other civil society activists, have been charged with “organising and participating in an unauthorised protest”, “complicity in violence, “aggression” and “destruction of property” and imprisoned in various prisons throughout the country. On 15 April, another five activists were arrested and accused of the same charges. We consider these accusations unfair and unfounded.

The African Union Summit is an opportunity for us to raise again our serious concerns about the deterioration of the civic space and the threat to human rights in general in many countries in Africa (Niger being one of the most recent examples) and the freedom of peaceful assembly and association in particular.

Thus, in order to show their commitment to the fight against corruption initiated by the African Union, whose aspiration clearly highlighted for the 2063 Agenda is “an Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law”, we appeal to the Heads of State and Government to make concrete commitments to ensure the respect of human rights and freedom of expression and association and to call on their Nigerien counterparts to release civil society actors immediately and without conditions. Publish What You Pay Africa Steering Committee Publish What You Pay Africa Steering Committee

  • Anglophone West Africa: Erisa Danladi, PWYP Nigeria
  • Central Africa: Dupleix Kuenzob, PWYP Cameroon
  • East and Southern Africa: Mutuso Dhliwayo, PWYP Zimbabwe
  • Francophone West Africa: Tiemoko Sangare, PWYP Mali
  • EITI International Board representative: Moses Kulaba
  • EITI International Board representative: Brice Mackosso
  • EITI International Board representative: Faith Nwadishi
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    Media contact West Africa:

    M. Demba SEYDI, Regional Coordinator – Francophone West Africa

    Mobile: (+221) 77 344 59 59

    Telephone: (+221) 70 866 02 44

    Skype: demba.seydi

    Email: dseydi@publishwhatyoupay.org

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