Friday, March 7, 2008

Niger: Jailed editor sentenced to one month in prison, fined

A court in Niamey sentenced editor Aboubacar Gourouza to one month in prison on March 6. His charge: “discrediting” a court decision, Agence-France Presse reported.

Gourouza, editor of the independent bi-monthly L'Eveil Plus, has already spent a month in custody. He was also fined 50,000 FCFA (€76).

According to the International Federation of Journalists, in a January 29 edition, Gourouza compared two cases of embezzlement involving two local officials: one from of Maradi, in the southern part of the country, and the second in Niamey. Authorities provisionally released the mayor of Maradi while the mayor Niamey remained in custody. In the story, Gourouza stated the trial of Ganda was not advancing “as if this slowness was fine for some business” and looked like “a political payback time,” IFJ reported.

Bouboucar Diallo, member of the Association of Editors of the Independent Press, told AFP that “we’re surprised and very discouraged by this attitude.”

In case you forgot, Moussa Kaka, Radio France International reporter, has been imprisoned since September 2007 for alleged links to the rebel group Niger Movement for Justice. On February 12, a Niamey appeals court refused to release Kaka on bail although prosecutor’s evidence of taped phone calls is not legally admissible evidence in Niger.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation, a U.S. government development program, recently announced a three-year $23 million grant for the government of Niger to tackle corruption and strengthen girls’ access to education.

Since its inception in 2004, MCC has claimed it will only work with countries that demonstrate a commitment to policies promoting economic freedom, education investments, the control of corruption and a respect for civil liberties and the rule of law.

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