International PEN protests the one-month prison sentence imposed on February 8, 2008, on Ibrahim Souley and Soumana Idrissa Maiga, managing editor and founder respectively of the bimonthly publication L’Enquêteur, for charges of libel. PEN considers this prison sentence to be in opposition to Souley and Maiga’s right to freedom of expression and calls for their conviction to be quashed.

Background Information

Souley and Maiga were arrested and detained for several days by the Niamey Criminal Investigation Department on December 4 and 5, 2007, respectively, after the Minister of Economy and Finance, Ali Mahamane Lamine Zène, filed a libel complaint against L’Enquêteur. On December 7, both men appeared before the Office of the State Prosecutor at the Niamey Special Magistrates Court, and were released on bail. The charges stem from articles published on November 19, 2007, alleging that the minister was involved in granting state projects illegally and encouraging mismanagement of public finances.

On February 8, 2008, Souley and Maiga were both sentenced to one month in jail. They were also ordered to pay a symbolic fine of 40,000 francs (around 60 Euros) each to the minister. Their defense lawyer said they would appeal the decision.

PEN notes that writers and journalists in Africa who report on corruption are particularly liable to face imprisonment on criminal defamation charges, including libel.

Write A Letter

  • expressing concern that Ibrahim Souley and Soumana Idrissa Maiga have been sentenced to one month in prison in violation of their rights to freedom of expression and opinion, guaranteed by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Niger is party;
  • urging the Nigeri authorities to quash the prison sentence imposed on Souley and Maiga.

Send Your Letter To

Président de la République: S.E.M .Tandja Mamadou
PO Box 369
Niamey, Niger
Fax: + 227 2073 3430

Permanent Mission of Niger to the United Nations
H.E. Mr. Aboubacar Ibrahim Abani
417 East 50th Street
New York, NY  10022
Phone: (212) 421-3260/61/86
Fax:(212) 753-6931

Please send a copy of your appeal to the diplomatic representative for Niger in your country.