Critical TV journalist to be freed soon in Niger
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is relieved to learn that outspoken TV presenter Baba Alpha will soon be released from prison after his sentence was reduced on appeal by a court in Niger’s capital, Niamey, on 12 March.
A news presenter for Bonferey, an independent TV channel, Alpha will be freed on 4 April, exactly one year after his arrest in Niamey, because the appeal court reduced his sentence to two years in prison, the second of them suspended. He was originally sentenced to two years in prison and the withdrawal of all civil and political rights for ten years on a charge of forging and using forged identity documents.
His lawyer, Mossi Boubacar, told RSF he welcomed the appeal court’s “courageous decision” but announced his intention to appeal to a higher court with the aim of overturning Alpha’s conviction, which he described as “excessive” and “indicative of the pressure on media outlets critical of the authorities.”
“We have mixed feelings about this decision,” RSF said. “Baba Alpha’s imminent release is a great relief but we regret that his conviction was not overturned altogether. The fact that this news presenter, who is known for his criticism of the government, has spent a year in prison on disproportionate charges is still a disturbing message for all journalists in Niger who would like to speak with an independent voice.”
Amid a decline in the security situation, respect for media freedom has fallen dramatically in recent years in Niger, which is ranked 51st out of 180 countries in RSF's 2017 World Press Freedom Index.