March 28, 2018

Niger: RSF condemns Niamey-based TV channel’s closure

Protest against finance law 2018 in Niamey. Photo AFP
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the immediate reopening of Radio-TV Labari, a commercial TV channel based in Niamey, the capital of Niger, which was shut down by the police on 25 March for refusing to surrender a copy of its TV news programme focusing on a protest earlier that day in Niamey.

Shortly after Radio-TV Labari broadcast its evening TV news programme on 25 March, a senior police officer arrived at its studies and demanded a copy of the broadcast, which had included an interview with an activist about a street protest against the finance law that was staged earlier in the day, although banned by the authorities. “He demanded a copy of our news programme,” Radio-TV Labari interim director Razak Idrissa told RSF. “We replied that only the High Council for Communication, the media regulatory authority, has that right.” In response to Radio-TV Labari’s refusal, the police ordered its immediate closure. Since then, access to the TV channel’s premises has been blocked by members of the National Guard stationed outside.

This closure order is completely arbitrary,” said Arnaud Froger, the head of RSF’s Africa desk, “The police must stop harassing media outlets that cover demonstrations and must not exceed their legal powers. We call on the authorities to order the reopening of Radio-TV Labari.

The police also confiscated the equipment of a woman reporter for the independent daily L’Enquêteur who was covering the demonstration. Last January, the police smashed the equipment of journalists with Radio-TV Labari and another commercial TV channel, TV Ténéré, during a demonstration by secondary school students. During a student demonstration in April 2017, a policeman insulted and slapped a Canal 3 TV journalist who was trying to film police officers beating a student.

Niger is ranked 51st out of 180 countries in RSF's 2017 World Press Freedom Index.