Status : Adopted national law
Since 2015, civil society has been working on a draft law for the protection of human rights defenders. On 15 June 2022, a law was adopted by a large majority of votes in the National Assembly. Although this development offers hope, the current situation of human rights defenders remains worrisome.
The adopted law was elaborated by civil society actors since 2015, notably in the framework of the Nigerien Coalition of human rights defenders. It remained under discussion until March 2022, before finally being adopted on 15 June 2022 by the Nigerien National Assembly.
The African Commission also offers a monitoring mechanism for the situation and safety of Human Rights Defenders through a separate Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders for Africa. This mechanism has not published any report on the situation of human rights defenders in Niger, however. In 2014, the Special Rapporteur published a press release on the arrest and detention of human rights defenders, reminding the authorities of Niger of their obligation to protect defenders.
Niger is also monitored through the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). In their latest national report in February 2021, they accepted to “protect human rights defenders and ensure that they are able to carry out their work free from harassment and intimidation” and pointed to the development of the draft law. Niger stated that the draft law was in an “advanced stage” of the adoption process. The law was adopted more than a year later.
The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders has not yet paid a visit to Niger, nor have they requested to visit the country. In their thematic reports, however, concerns continue to be raised about arbitrary arrests and detention of defenders in Niger.
Niger is labeled “repressed” by the CIVICUS monitor, which means that “active individuals and civil society members who criticise power holders risk surveillance, harassment, intimidation, imprisonment, injury and death” (CIVICUS, n.d.). The Freedom House Index classified Niger as “partly free” in 2022. This is mostly due to continuous efforts of suppression against opposition parties to the government, as well as the worrisome use of legislation that enables further restrictions on rights and freedoms, such as the 2019 Cybercrime law. An attempted coup in 2021 surrounding the president’s inauguration further compromised the country’s democratic development.
Updated on 07/06/22