Niger gained independence from France in 1960 and experienced single-party and military rule until 1991, when Gen. Ali Saibou was compelled by public pressure to make way for multi-party elections in 1993. Niger is a landlocked country with some of the world’s largest uranium deposits which serve as a backbone for the economy. Niger is bounded by Mali, Chad, Nigeria and Benin.
Overview of Media & FOE Environment
In 2009, government interference with the country’s media regulator and an upsurge in intimidation of journalists through the law courts led to the deterioration of the freedom of the press. After dissolving parliament in 2009, President Mamadou Tandja succeeded in removing the term limits of the presidency and delayed the next presidential election. After a constitutional referendum, Media freedom saw appreciable improvements in 2011 under the rule of the newly elected president, Mahamoudou Issoufou. Niger’s constitution guarantees freedom of expression but this is often not adhered to.
Among the instruments the government uses to strangle freedom of expression is its control of media licensing, requirement that journalists be accredited, a bias judiciary and an aggressive application of the criminal libel laws; promoting self-censorship. Also, restrictive press licensing legislations and a heavy tax on private media outlets hinder the development of the private media sector.
Regulation of the media is done by the Higher Council for Communication (CSC). The CSC issues all licenses and press credentials, and forms the Council of the Press: a journalism accrediting body. The CSC is the only body legally allowed to close media outlets and license television, radio, and newspaper reporting.
The National Communication Observatory (ONC) also regulates the media in Niger. The Niger Independent Monitoring Center for Media Ethics and Conduct was also formed to self-regulate the industry by monitoring broadcasts and publications.
Legal Regulatory Framework for Media Operation
The legal framework of the media in the Republic of Niger is governed by the following laws:
• Articles 24 and 112 of the 1992 Constitution
• Decree No. 93-029 of 30th March 1993 on the Press Freedom Regime
• Decree No. 99–67 of 20th December, 1999 on the Press Freedom Regime
• Articles 1, 4, 12, 15 and 37 of Decree No. 99–67 of 20th December, 1999
• Order No. 93-031 of March 30, 1993
• Article 2 of Order No. 93-031 of March 30, 1993
• Article 30 of the 2010 Constitution of Niger
• Article 157 of the 2010 Constitution of Niger
• Article 158 of the 2010 Constitution of Niger
MFWA’s work in Niger
The MFWA has been carrying out media rights monitoring reporting, media capacity building and media development interventions in Niger since 1997.