Niger ALERT: Court upholds sentence against journalist

The Niamey Appeal Court on Monday November 11, 2002, upheld the eight months prison sentence passed on Abdoulaye Tiémogo, managing editor of the Canard Déchaîné newspaper.

The Niamey Regional Tribunal had, on June 28, 2002, convicted Tiémogo for the offence of “insult and libel” against Prime Minister Hama Amadou. Besides being slapped with a fine of CFA50,000 francs, the tribunal had also ordered Tiémogo to pay one million CFA francs in damages to the Prime Minister.

Tiémogo, who had no legal representation at the initial trial, then appealed against the harsh jail term and fines. The Appeal Court, however, upheld the June 28 decision.

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) is concerned about the increasingly high-handed use of the law to criminalize speech and expression in Niger. On May 18, 2002, police authorities arrested Abarad Mouddour Zakara and Sanoussi Tambari Jackcou, Managing Editor and Publisher respectively, of the weekly La Roue de l’Histoire newspaper, for allegedly libelling Minister of Commerce Seyni Omar. Then, while Jackou was still in detention, the Attorney General, at the instance of the Prime Minister, accused the detained Jackcou, together with Abdoulaye Tiémogo of making “unethical remarks that could disturb public order.” On Monday, May 20, the Attorney General extended by 48 hours the “preventive detention” of the three media practitioners, pending their appearance in court.

The MFWA requests you to protest against the inhospitable media climate in Niger under the government of Prime Minister Hama Amadou.

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