Niger’s Higher Council for Communication closed down for an “indefinite period” an Agadez-based privately-owned radio station for allegedly broadcasting interviews with people who have been the victims of human rights violations by government soldiers, Reporters Without Borders said.
Raliou Hamed-Assaleh, manager of Sahara FM, told the Paris-based journalist organization that he was summonsed to Niamey April 18 after a northern-based governor and chief of police accused the station of broadcasting “dangerous” statements and appealing to ethnic hate and violence.
He told the group: “All we did was broadcast an account of something that happened.”
The government also told Hamed-Assaleh the station could face possible prosecution.
Amnesty International, in an April 3 report, cited a new wave of executions and forced disappearances of civilians committed by government troops fighting the Tuareg-led Movement for Nigerian Justice.
On August 24, 2007, the Nigerien government decreed a state of alert – which has been extended to May 24 – making it illegal for journalists to quote members of the rebellion or for reporters to speak with them. The ban also covers any live debates regarding the military and political situation in the north.
On March 12, the government suspended local broadcasts of Radio France International after the French network held a day of solidarity for correspondent Moussa Kaka, who has been in prison since September 20 for alleged ties with members of the rebellion. Kaka was recently brought before a judge protesting the government’s case against him centers on phone and wire taps, which are not admissible under state law.