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Details

Civil Society Organisations Call on Niger Authorities to End Harassment on Human Rights Defenders

  1. Seven of 15 prosecuted activists under arrest
    ⦁ Risks associated with COVID-19 pandemic exploited to stifle civic space
    ⦁ Investigate the death of three people

Several civil society organisations have today expressed concern over the arrest of at least 15 of their members and the detention and prosecution of seven of them. These events are taking place in the context of an increasingly deteriorating climate for civil society in Niger where several serious violations of fundamental freedoms have been recorded in recent weeks.

On 13 March, the Council of Ministers released a statement on the measures the country is taking to control the spread of COVID-19, including the banning of gatherings of over 1,000 people.

“Law enforcement officials also used tear gas to disperse the gathering. According to numerous sources, the resulting fire from the tear gas caused a fire on the roof of the Tagabati market in Niamey, killing at least three people. Signatory organisations

Law enforcement officials also used tear gas to disperse the gathering. According to numerous sources, the resulting fire from the tear gas caused a fire on the roof of the Tagabati market in Niamey, killing at least three people.

On 15 March, an assembly was held in the capital, Niamey, to denounce a misappropriation of public funds for the purchase of weapon equipment intended to fight terrorism. The rally was declared by the organisers before the Cabinet issued its communiqué after which they did not receive a notification of the ban. They therefore decided to continue the assembly despite the ban. That same day, very early in the morning, security forces blocked all the routes leading to the ‘Place de la concertation’ in Niamey, where the rally was planned.

Between 15 and 17 March, at least 15 people were arrested and detained in the premises of the judicial police for “participation in a prohibited demonstration and aiding in arson.” Several of these activists had already been arrested in 2018 in a wave of arrests linked to protests against the 2018 finance law.

To date, Moudi Moussa, Mounkaila Halidou, Moussa Tchangari, Habibou Soumaila, Sani Chekaraou and Maïkoul Zodi are still under arrest. They have been transferred to various prisons, some located more than 100 km from the city of Niamey, and in areas under state of emergency.

They are being prosecuted for “organising a prohibited demonstration and for complicity in the destruction of public property, arson and manslaughter”, with the exception of Sani Chekaraou who is prosecuted for “assault on the authorities of the big market”.

In the days before the demonstration, several journalists had been targeted: summoned by the police or arrested after speaking out or for conducting interviews related to the issue of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of them, Mamane Kaka Touda **, journalist and human rights defender, is still detained, accused of “disseminating data which may disturb public order” simply for having shared information on the existence of a suspect case.

On 20 March, after reporting the first case of COVID-19, Niger authorities suspended all visits to detainees for a period of at least three months and all court hearings until March 25.

The signatory organisations emphasize:

  • Their concerns regarding the increasing repression of civil society in Niger and the exploitation of the risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic to stifle civic space online and offline – notably the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, association, and political participation guaranteed by international obligations and by the Constitution of Niger;
  • If exceptional measures are put in place to deal with health issues, they must respect the strict conditions of necessity, proportionality of legality, and non-discrimination under international standards established in the matter, in particular Articles 4, 9, 10, 14, 19, 21, 22 and 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ratified by Niger in 1986.

In particular, emergency declarations justified by the COVID-19 epidemic should not be used as a cover for disproportionate and repressive action by the authorities, as underlined in a recent press release by the United Nations Special Rapporteurs:

These measures may in no case serve to harass human rights defenders on judicial terms, in particular the possible laying of charges;

  • ⦁ Although restrictions on in-person visits or contact to people in detention may be legitimate to prevent the COVID-19 pandemic, these restrictions must be proportionate to the objective of preventing (or responding to) a pandemic. Detainee visits should be replaced by means and opportunities to contact the outside world, for example by telephone, e-mail or video calls.
    ⦁ Justice services must be able to provide a minimum service in order to guarantee the continuity of judicial procedures and the rule of law, while respecting the right to a fair trial.
    ⦁ Niger has just joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), which requires the country to implement clear requirements in terms of fundamental freedoms, under the Civil Society Protocol. The Nigerien authorities must therefore comply with their commitments to these.

The signatory organisations call on the Niger authorities to:

  • ⦁ Put an end to any practice of harassment against members of civil society on the grounds of health safety.
    ⦁ Comply with the international standards in force relating to the exceptions permitted by international law, in particular by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the regional and international instruments relating to human rights ratified by Niger.
    ⦁ Conduct an independent and impartial investigation into the facts recorded during the demonstration on 15 March, in particular those which led to the deaths of at least three people – identify the perpetrators and present them in a civil court, in accordance with the right to a fair trial;
    ⦁ Guarantee the respect of the rights of detainees, in particular their rights to adequate hygiene and food, access to healthcare and access to the outside world through communications with their lawyers, families and relatives;

The signatory organisations call on the following organisations:

  • ⦁ The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to urge the authorities of Niger to implement the requests mentioned above;
    ⦁ The EITI International Secretariat to contact the Niger authorities and to ensure that the government follows the above recommendations, in order to fulfill the requirements of the Civil Society Protocol. If these requirements are not met, the EITI Secretariat should consider questioning the acceptance of Niger’s application;

SIGNATORIES

  • 1.Publish What You Pay (PWYP)
    2. Tournons la Page Niger (TLP)
    3. Amnesty International
    4. Agir Ensemble contre les droits de l’homme (AEDH)
    5. CCFD-Terre Solidaire

ABOUT THE SEVEN DETAINEES

  • 1.. Mr. Moudi Moussa, National Coordinator of Tournons La Page (TLP), President Movement of Young Republicans (MJR), member organisation of Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Niger
  • 2. Mr. Karim Tanko, treasurer of TLP, member of MRJ, member organisation of PWYP Niger
  • 3. Mr. Mounkaila Halidou, Secretary General of the National Union of Contract Agents and Basic Education Officials (SYNACEB) and Member of the Network of Organizations for Transparency and Budget Analysis (ROTAB), member organisation of PWYP Niger, former President of the PWYP Niger Administration Committee
  • 4.Maikoul Zodi, National Coordinator of Tournons la Page, President of MJR, member organisation of PWYP Niger
  • 5.Moussa Tchangari, Secretary General of Alternative Citizen Space (AEC)
  • 6 Sani Chekaraou, President of the Trade Union of Importers and Exporters of Niger
  • 7.Mamane Kaka Touda, journalist and human rights defender, Youth Program Coordinator of the NGO “Alternative Espaces Citoyens”

©2020 Amnesty International

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Beware of Fake News and Fake Messages on Social Media

Always follow websites of traditional media outlets whether newspapers, magazines,Television News Channels or Radio Stations and authentic online only media outlets.They still maintain journalism excellence and stress on reportorial talent.On the other hand, fake news websites run by people with non journalism background and promote their own ideology with fake news and disinformations and obviously conspiracy theories.

Always check the URL of any website.Some fake news websites look like the orginal and popular one the same layout,Logo but if you check the URL you may find extra words like if the orginal website's URL is www.xxx.com the duplicate one might be www.xxx.com.co or something like that so first check the URL for authentic informations.

Check whether photos are original or photoshopped.Check Google images for authenticity.You can find help from Google Reverse Images search.

Check the news sources from other websites whether they picked up the story or not.

Whether the website layout is little bit clumsy and obviously grammatical mistakes and spelling mistakes.

Follow official websites relating to COVID-19

WHO Clarifies the disinformation about the virus: 
COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates
Cold Weather and Snow can not kill the new coronavirus
Taking a Hot Bath Does Not Prevent COVID-19
COVID-19 Can not be transmitted through mosquito bites

Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body. Spraying such substances can be harmful to clothes or mucous membranes (i.e. eyes, mouth)

According to World Health Organization (WHO): Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water

Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth . If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early

Stay at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and slight runny nose, until you recover.

If you develop fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical advice promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition

Follow WHO guidelines www.who.int

When you follow COVID-19 related news and messages from social media then check and recheck it before consuming it.Follow journalism mantra: if your mother says she loves you, check it out.

Most of the messages or informations quote different organizations like WHO, UNICEF, UNDP,Cambridge University  or other well known institutes ,organizations or individual.Check official websites of these organizations  if stories are repeated there

Forwarding messages from unknown sources or little known sources  then it would be better to ignore it.

Check whether any logo like UNICEF or WHO or other organizations used in the messages which look similar to original logo.

These type of messages are full of Grammatical mistakes and spelling mistakes which are quite uncommon in original messages.

Don't rely on social media messages that the lockdown will last for more than 3 months. Check any related information only on Government Web Portals and social media platforms of various Government Agencies.

Some fake messages pretend to be real one like unofficial Twitter handle of international media organizations like BBC,CNN,Washinton Post, New York Times-check the official Twitter handles of media outlets.

You can identify fake messages if the message requests you to share it.

Always check the fact checking sites if you have some doubts about the authenticity of any information or picture.

www.boomlive.in

www.altnews.in

https://check4spam.com

https://smhoaxslayer.com

www.factchecker.in

www.allsides.com

www.factcheck.org

www.newsbusters.org

www.politifact.com

www.snopes.com

www.propublica.org

The Same Method Applies to You Tube Videos Check the Source the credibility of the Source.To Check Fake You Tube Videos Check and Recheck the sources. Does the person have the legal right to the video posted? Did that person capture the video? Whether it has been altered?

But due to advancement of technology we can not really wipe out fake news.According to experts advent of  Artificial Intelligence(AI) some companies small or big one developing  technologies that can  lay digitally created script to anybody's voice  even words,sentences never said by the person.Even they are developing a technology which can create fake video footage,images,audios like originals.So be cautious! Rumour-mongers are active everywhere whether in physical world or cyber world.

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