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80 journalists, media owners and African press freedom defenders launch a major appeal to the Niger junta

80 journalists, media owners and African press freedom defenders launch a major appeal to the Niger junta

One month after the coup in Niger, breaches of press freedom are causing grave concern. African news professionals, mobilized by RSF, are publishing an appeal to Niger’s National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP). The signatories demand respect for press freedom in the country.

The African press freedom community, acting for the sake of journalists in Niger, have taken up the RSF initiative, out of deep concern following the military coup of 26 July. The RSF initiative is supported by top executives from Nigerien media, including Moussa Aksar,  editor of the newspaper L’Événement, and from Africa overall, including Haman Mana, editor of the daily Le Jour in Cameroon.

 The list of signatories also includes journalists’ rights advocates such as the ”Maison de la Presse” in Niger, the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ), the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), as well as the Norbert Zongo Cell for Investigative Journalism in West Africa (CENOZO).

Since the coup on 26 July, local and international journalists have been physically attacked and cyber-harassed. Some media have been shut down. Freedom of the press and information pluralism are being directly challenged. But the rights to inform and be informed should never be disputed in the context of the political instability running through Niger. From Niamey to Djibouti and from N’Djamena to Antananarivo, journalists and organisations are uniting to call on the Niger junta to respect the fundamental right to reliable and diverse information, and to not hinder the work of news professionals.”

Sadibou Marong

Director, RSF sub-Sahara Bureau

A number of troubling events show the growing threat to press freedom since the military coup. Soufiane Mana Hassan, editor of the newspaper Le Témoin de l’Histoire, told RSF that on 28 July unidentified individuals threatened him on the street near his house, telling him to watch out what he published in his paper and  on his social media. A few days later, blogger and journalist Samira Sabou was questioned by a member of the military, who contacted her by phone, criticizing one of her social media posts. The journalist had shared a message from deposed president Mohamed Bazoum.

Threats and intimidation also target foreign journalists. On 19 August, independent journalists Amaury Hauchard and Stanislas Poyet, who are based in Niamey and contribute to a number of international media outlets, were attacked physically and verbally while covering a gathering of “volunteers for the homeland.” Poyet’s passport, as well as the journalists’ photo and radio equipment, were stolen. The two were beaten, with Hauchard requiring two stitches to his lip. Several days before, Anne Fleur Lespiaut, correspondent for the international French-language channel TV5 Monde was hit by a cyber-harassment campaign of junta supporters. Some of them demanded that she be declared “persona non grata,” while others called for a “settling of accounts” with her. RFI and France 24 broadcasters were shut down indefinitely on 3 August.

The signatories call on the CNSP to respect the work of local and international news professionals within the country. The junta must also bring an end to verbal attacks and threats against journalists, including by CNSP members, and to publicly condemn such attacks from within its ranks. Threats and attacks on journalists must be subject to criminal investigation so that those responsible can be identified and prosecuted, and so that assaults on the right to inform cease.

APPEAL OF THE  80

 “Military authorities are obliged to respect rights of journalists in the Sahel”

We, journalists, directors of media outlets and press freedom advocacy organisations, established and working in Africa, have received reports of numerous attacks on press freedom since the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP) seized power in Niger on 26 July 2023.

1.      Two days after the coup, unidentified individuals attacked crews from Nigerien radio-TV broadcaster Anfani and damaged a camera from private TV channel Bonferey. They were covering a press conference by women from the political party of deposed president Mohamed Bazoum.

 2.  Journalist Soufiane Maman Hassan, publisher of the newspaper Le Témoin de l’Histoire, reported being stopped in the street by masked men. They threatened to come to his house “very soon,” to take him away. They told him to watch out for what he published in his newspaper and on his social media.

3.      On 29 July, a member of the CNSP support committee called publicly for the indefinite suspension of western media. On 3 August, the TV channel France 24 and radio broadcaster RFI were shut down until further notice.

4.      While covering demonstrations, international media correspondents have been threatened on multiple occasions by people hostile to their presence. On 19 August three of them were attacked physically, with two of them injured. They had been covering a recruitment ceremony for Volunteers of the Homeland (VDP).

5.      On 4 August, journalist and blogger Samira Sabou received an intimidating phone call by a member of the military close to the junta after she had shared on social media, as a news item, a post by deposed president Bazoum. She condemns a “denial of the right to practice the profession ethically.”

Amid multiple calls to the CNSP to respect press freedom by the Maison de la presse  of Niger, by those who stand in solidarity with Nigerien journalists and international correspondents, we reiterate the need, in this moment of crisis, for diverse and reliable coverage of events, based on respect for the ethical standards of the profession. We demand that the junta respect the right to information, and to media pluralism and independence.

Specifically, we call on the CNSP to:

1.      Safeguard the safety of local and international journalists:

  •   End verbal attacks and threats against journalists, including by CNSP members, and to publicly condemn such attacks when they occur.

  • Remove all obstacles, of whatever kind, to criminal investigation of threats and attacks on journalists, which must be undertaken in order to identify and prosecute those responsible, whoever they may be.

2.      Respect media-protection legal provisions:

  • The 2010 ruling on press freedom ends prison sentences for press crimes.

  • Since 2022, the cyber-crime law no longer includes imprisonment for crimes committed by electronic media outlets, including slander or defamation by journalists.

 However, provisions of this law against crimes of treason, terrorism and threat to state security pose the risk of unwarranted repression of journalists.

We call on the CNSP to commit publicly to not invoke against journalists, because of their journalistic work, laws on treason, terrorism and state security.

3.      Respect citizens’ right to be informed:

  •  Preserve and respect citizens’ right to be informed.

  •  Lift the suspension of media outlets such as RFI and France 24.

  • Maintain internet platforms and social media open, protected, inclusive and accessible.

4.      Respect media pluralism, diversity and independence

  • The CNSP must treat information as a public good and respect the pluralism and independence of independent media.

  • Media access to adequate and stable financing must not encounter obstacles.

Our appeal is also directed to other States in the Sahel controlled by the military. We remind them of their duty to respect the rights of journalists, especially the right of access to information, in the interest of inhabitants of the Sahel.

SIGNATORIES 

Organisations

1.      Africtivistes

2.      Article 19 West Africa

3.      Association of African Communication Professionals (APAC/Niger)

4.      Association of Online Media of Chad

5.      Norbert Zongo Cell for Investigative Journalism in West Africa (CENOZO)

6.      Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ Africa)

7.      Federation of African Journalists (FAJ)

8.      Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)

9.      Journalists in Danger (JED)

10.  Panos Institute of West Africa (IPAO)

11.  International Press Institute (IPI)

12.  Maison de la Presse du  Niger

13.  National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ)

14.  Union of Journalists of West Africa (UJAO)

15.  Union of Journalists of the African Free Press (UJPLA)

17. Reporters Without Borders

18. South Africa National Editors Forum (SANEF)

 

Journalists

Niger:

19.  Ibrahim Abdou – Editor of news site infoniamey.com

20.  Moussa Aksar – Editor of l’Évenement newspaper

21.  Soufiane Maman Hassan – Publisher, Le Témoin de l’Histoire

22.  Oumarou Kane –  Editor in Chief of satirical newspaper Le Hérisson

23.  Moussa Moudi – Editor in Chief of ANFANI Group and Secretary General of SYNATIC

24.  Moussa Naganou – Editor of private daily Mourya, the Voice of Niger, and president of the Nigerien Association for Defence of the Right to Information and Development (ANDDID-Niger)

25.  Samira Sabou – Editor of Mides Niger

26.  Amina Niandou, Président of APAC Niger

27.  Mahamadou Tahirou – Président of Journalists Forum for Promotion of Good Governance

28.  Ibrahim Tikire – President of Journalists Network for Human Rights

Burkina Faso : 

29.  Aimé Nabaloum – Editor in Chief of newspaper Le Reporter

30.  Serge Atiana Oulon- Editor of bimonthly L’ÉVÉNEMENT

31.  Ousséni Ilboudo – News Director of l’Observateur Paalga

Benin : 

32.  Fiacre Viginhou – Director FV Partners Group

33.  Raoul Hounsounou – Managing Editor of Kori Actu

34.  Cherifou Riwanou – Editor of publication Matin Libre

Burundi :

35.  Abbas Mbazumutima – News Director, Iwacu Press Group

Cameroon : 

36.  Emmanuel Ekouli – Editor of publication La voix du Centre

37.  Haman Manan – Editor of daily Le Jour.

Cape Verde : 

38.  Nélio Santos – Editor of Public Radio of Cape Verde

Djibouti : 

39.  Mahamoud Djama –  Investigative Journalist and production director of La Voix de Djibouti

Gabon : 

40.  Désiré Ename – Publisher, Echos du Nord

The Gambia :

41.  Pap Saine – Co-publisher, The Point

Ghana : 

42.  Linda Asante-Agyei – Ghana News Agency and Vice Président of  the Ghana Journalists Association

43.  Araba Koomson – Editor of  Joy News

Guinea : 

44.  Nouhou Baldé – Founder and general manager of news site, guineematin.com

45.  Mohamed BANGOURA – Editor of news site,  www.mosaiqueguinee.com

Liberia : 

46.  Sam O. Dean – Editor of newspaper, The Independent

47.  Jimmey Fahngon – Editor in Chief of newspaper, The News

Mali : 

48.  Boubacar Diarra – Editor of newspaper, La Référence du Mali (general news weekly)

49.  Freddy Matar Sylla – Editor of satirical weekly, Mindiss

50.  Abdoul Majid Thiam – Editor of newspaper, Le Focus (general news and investigative weekly)

Madagascar : 

51.   Rakotonirina Gérard – Editor of daily, Basy Vava

52.   Fernand Cello, Editor, radio Jupiter

Malawi : 

53.  Lloyd Mbwana – Managing Editor Maravi Post

54.  Winston Mwale – Editor in Chief, Africa Brief

Mauritius :

 55.   Richard Le Bon- Editor in Chief, Business Magazine

 Nigeria :

56.  Samuel Ogundipe – News director, Peoples Gazette

57. Agba Jalingo- Publisher, Cross River Watch

Republic of the Congo : 

58.  Marna Mankene – Editor in Chief, Vox Tv

59.  Fortunat Ngolali – General Manager, Tsieleka Tv

Democratic Republic of the Congo :

60.  Tshivis Tshivuadi, President, Journalists in Danger (JED)

61.  Gilbert KYUNGU, Coordinator, Network of Associated and Community Media of Katanga

62.  Blaise Zahinda Ntole, Journalist, editor, Lengonyalengi.net

63.Philippe MAKOMERA- Programme Director, Radio Moto Butembo-Beni, .

Senegal : 

63.  Momar Dieng – Director of online news site, impact.sn

64.  Ibrahima Lissa Faye – Editor in Chief of news site,  Pressafrik

65.  Faydy Dramé- Journalist, Project Manager, regional outlet,  Ouestaf news

66.  Abdoulaye Thiam- Président UPF Sénégal

Seychelles :

67.  Vel Moonien-  Editor in Chief, Today in Seychelles

68.  Patsy Canaya- Editor, Seychelles Nation

69.   Rassin Vannier- CEO Seychelles News Agency.

Sierra Leone : 

70.  Stephen Douglas – Editor of newspaper, NewsWatch

71.   Lawrence Williams – Editor and news director of newspaper Fritong Post

South Africa :

72. Branko Brkic- Editor in Chief  Daily Maverick

73. Adriaan Basson- Editor News 24

South Sudan :

74.  Peter Louis- Head of Kanga Africa Media for Production and Investment.

75.  Oyet Patrick- Head of Union of Journalists in South Sudan

Chad : 

76.  Sony Mekondo – Editor in Chief, FM Liberté

77.  Olivier Monodji – Editor in chief of weekly, Le Pays

78.  Djimet Wiche- Editor in Chief, Alwihda Info

Togo : 

79.  Médard AMETEPE – Editor in Chief,  newspaper Liberté

80.  Isidore Kouwonou – Editor in Chief of investigative biweekly, L’Alternative

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