At the initiative of RSF, 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 Reporters Without Borders (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.

Les signataires :

Organisations 

Africtivistes 

Article 19 Afrique de l’Ouest  

Association des professionnelles africaines de la communication (APAC/Niger) 

Association des médias en ligne du Tchad

Cellule Norbert Zongo pour le journalisme d’investigation en Afrique de l’Ouest (CENOZO) 

Comité pour la Protection des Journalistes (CPJ)   

Fédération des journalistes africains (FAJ)

Fondation des Médias pour l’Afrique de l’Ouest (MFWA)  

International Press Institute (IPI)

Institut Panos Afrique de l'Ouest (IPAO)

Journalistes en Danger (JED) 

Maison de la presse du Niger

National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ)

South Africa National Editors Forum (SANEF)

Union des journalistes d’Afrique de l’Ouest (UJAO)  

Union des journalistes de la presse libre africaine (UJPLA)

Reporters sans frontières (RSF)

 

Journalistes 

Niger : 

Ibrahim Abdou - Directeur du site en ligne infoniamey.com

Moussa Aksar - Directeur de publication du journal L’Événement 

Soufiane Maman Hassan - Directeur de publication du Témoin de l’Histoire

Oumarou Kane - Rédacteur en chef du journal satirique Le Hérisson

Moussa Moudi - Rédacteur en chef du groupe ANFANI et secrétaire général du SYNATIC

Moussa Naganou - Directeur de publication du quotidien privé Mourya, La voix du Niger et Président de l'Association nigérienne de défense du droit à l'information et du développement (ANDDID-Niger)

Samira Sabou - Directrice de publication de Mides Niger

Amina Niandou - Présidente de l'APAC Niger

Mahamadou Tahirou - Président du Forum des journalistes pour la promotion de la bonne gouvernance 

Ibrahim Tikire - Président du Réseau des journalistes pour les droits de l'homme

 

Afrique du Sud :

Branko Brkic - Rédacteur en chef du Daily Maverick 

Adriaan Basson - Rédacteur en chef de News 24  

 

Burkina Faso :

Aimé Nabaloum - Rédacteur en chef du journal Le Reporter 

Serge Atiana Oulon - Directeur de publication du bimensuel L'Événement

Ousséni Ilboudo - Directeur des rédactions de l'Observateur Paalga

 

Bénin : 

Fiacre Vidjingninou - Directeur de FV Partners Group

Raoul Hounsounou - Directeur de publication de Kori Actu

Cherifou Riwanou - Directeur de publication de Matin Libre

 

Burundi :

Abbas Mbazumutima - Directeur des rédactions du groupe de presse Iwacu 

 

Cameroun : 

Emmanuel Ekouli - Directeur de publication La voix du Centre 

Haman Mana - Directeur de publication du quotidien Le Jour

 

Cap-Vert : 

Nélio Santos - Directeur de la Radio Publique du Cap Vert 

 

Djibouti : 

Mahamoud Djama - Journaliste d’investigation et directeur de production de La Voix de Djibouti

 

Gabon : 

Désiré Ename - Directeur de publication des Échos du Nord

 

Gambie :

Pap Saine - Directeur de publication du journal The Point

 

Ghana : 

Linda Asante-Agyei - Agence de Presse du Ghana et vice-présidente  de l’Association des Journalistes du Ghana  

Araba Koomson - Éditeur de Joy News

 

Guinée : 

Nouhou Baldé - Fondateur et administrateur général du site Guineematin.com

Mohamed BANGOURA - Directeur de publication du site d'information www.mosaiqueguinee.com

 

Libéria : 

Sam O. Dean - Éditeur du journal The Independent

Jimmey Fahngon - Rédacteur en chef du journal The News 

 

Mali : 

Boubacar Diarra - Directeur de publication du journal La Référence du Mali 

Freddy Matar Sylla - Directeur de publication de l’hebdomadaire satirique Mindiss

Abdoul Majid Thiam - Directeur de publication du journal Le Focus 

 

Madagascar : 

Rakotonirina Gérard - Directeur de Publication du quotidien Basy Vava

Fernand Cello - Directeur de publication de Radio Jupiter

 

Malawi : 

Lloyd Mbwana - Directeur de la rédaction du Maravi Post

Winston Mwale - Rédacteur en chef d’Africa Brief

 

Maurice 

Richard Le Bon - Rédacteur en chef du Business Magazine

 

Nigeria : 

Samuel Ogundipe - Directeur de la rédaction de Peoples Gazette

Agba Jalingo - Directeur de Cross River Watch

 

République du Congo : 

Marna Mankene - Rédactrice en chef de Vox TV

Fortunat Ngolali - Manager général de Tsieleka TV

 

République Démocratique du Congo :

Tshivis Tshivuadi, Président de Journalistes en Danger (JED)

Gilbert KYUNGU - Coordonnateur du Réseau des médias associatifs et communautaires du Katanga (REMACK)

Blaise Zahinda Ntole - Journaliste rédacteur de Lengonyalengi.net 

Philippe MAKOMERA - Directeur des programmes de Radio Moto Butembo-Beni

 

Sénégal : 

Momar Dieng - Directeur du média en ligne impact.sn

Ibrahima Lissa Faye - Directeur de publication du média Pressafrik

Faydy Dramé - Journaliste, Chargé de projets du média régional Ouestaf news 

Abdoulaye Thiam - Président de l'UPF Sénégal

 

Seychelles :

Vel Moonien - Rédacteur en chef de Today in Seychelles

Patsy Canaya - Editeur de Seychelles Nation

Rassin Vannier - CEO de Seychelles News Agency

 

Sierra Leone : 

Stephen Douglas - Editeur du journal NewsWatch 

Lawrence Williams - Editeur et directeur de la rédaction du journal Fritong Post

 

Sud Soudan :

Peter Louis - Directeur de Kanga Africa Media for Production and Investment

Oyet Patrick - Président de l'Union des journalistes du Sud-Soudan

 

Tchad : 

Sony Mekondo - Rédacteur en chef de FM Liberté 

Olivier Monodji - Directeur de publication de l'hebdomadaire Le Pays

Djimet Wiche - Directeur de publication d'Alwihda Info

 

Togo : 

Médard AMETEPE - Directeur de publication du journal Liberté 

Isidore Kouwonou - Rédacteur en chef du journal d'investigation L’Alternative

Published on