MFWA welcomes the release of Samira Sabou, the journalist and activist in Niger who was arrested and detained over her Facebook post on alleged corruption in the acquisition of military equipment by Niger’s Ministry of Defense.
Sabou was released by a Niamey high court on July 28, 2020, after spending 47 days in detention in the civil prison in Niamey. The court declared that the crime of defamation with which she had been charged has not been established.
Sabou was arrested on June 10, following the defamation complaint filed against her by Sani Mahamadou Issoufou, son of President Mamadou Issoufou and deputy director of the President’s cabinet.
It followed a third-party comment on the journalist’s Facebook post about the over-invoicing scandal relating to the purchase of military equipment in the country, in which Sani Issoufou is allegedly involved.
Niger’s cybercrime law, prescribes a prison term of up to three years and a fine for offenses committed on social networks and digital platforms.
Like Samira, two other journalists, Kaka Touda Mamane Goni independent journalist and Ali Souman, editor-in-chief of Le Courrier newspaper have also borne the brunt of the cybercrime law over the past six months. The two journalists were separately arrested and detained for their publications on social media.
It is the MFWA’s position that, Sabou should not have been detained in the first place. We therefore condemn her arrest and detention as a flagrant violation of her rights as a journalist and citizen.
Consequently, we are calling for the journalist to be compensated for her wrongful detention for 47 days. The Foundation further calls on the authorities in Niger to stop the hasty arrest and detention of citizens and journalists for online publications that they make them uncomfortable.