Reporters Without Borders warns of growing press censorship and repression threat in Niger News
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Reporters Without Borders warns of growing press censorship and repression threat in Niger

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) warned on Wednesday about the possibility of Nigerien authorities using the country’s revised cybercrime law to censor and imprison journalists. New amendments to the law reintroduced prison sentences for defamation, insults, and dissemination of data that could disrupt public order via the Internet.

On June 7, 2024, the head of Niger’s military junta, General Abdourahamane Tiani, signed an ordinance amending the country’s 2019 cybercrime law. The Ministry of Justice stated that the ordinance aimed to “strike a balance between freedom of expression, protection of individual rights, and public safety.” Article 29 of the modified law punishes a person guilty of defamation or insult through electronic communication for a prison sentence between one to three years. RSF underlined that Article 31, after amendment, emerged as an issue of importance to journalists as it criminalizes dissemination of data that could “disturb public order or undermine human dignity.”

On July 26, 2023, Niger’s military junta, the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland, seized control of the country from democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum. Since then, freedom of expression in Niger has been in jeopardy. In a statement released in October 2023, human rights group Amnesty International reported a crackdown on media under the new regime, putting freedom of the press at risk. The report highlighted increased intimidation faced by journalists, including threats of violence and surveillance from both government authorities and civilians. Media in Niger has been subjected to suspension without reason.

Prominent Nigerien journalist and blogger Samira Sabou was kidnapped in September 2023 and held for eight days without her whereabouts being known. She had previously been imprisoned in June 2020 on cybercrime charges after posting about an audit of Niger’s military on Facebook. Additionally, authorities in Niger blocked French public broadcasters Radio France Internationale (RFI) and France 24 earlier that year.

Article 30 of the Constitution of Niger guarantees freedom of expression and opinion.