International PEN protests the one-month prison sentence imposed on Aboubacar Gourouza, managing editor of L’Eveil Plus, on March 6, 2008, for charges of bringing the Nigeri justice system into disrepute. PEN considers this custodial sentence to be in opposition to Gourouza’s right to freedom of expression, and calls for his immediate release and the quashing of his conviction.

Background Information

On January 29, 2008, L’Eveil Plus, an independent biweekly based in Niamey, capital of Niger, published an article comparing two cases of embezzlement. In the first case, the mayor of Maradi was provisionally released from prison, while in the second, the mayor of Niamey remained in prison.

The editor was arrested by the Criminal Investigation Department on February 25, 2008, on two separate charges of defamation and contempt of justice. According to the Media Foundation for West Africa, the defamation charge, lodged by a politician, was dropped following the intervention of the Union of Independent Journalists. However,  the second case continued in Niamey. During the trial, the prosecution requested a three-month prison sentence and a fine. Gourouza was sentenced to one month in prison and fined 50,000 CFA francs (approx. 76 Euros) on March 6, 2008. He has been held in Niamey prison since his arrest.

Gourouza’s conviction comes just weeks after that of Ibrahim Souley and Soumana Idrissa Maiga, managing editor and founder respectively of the bimonthly publication L’Enquêteur, who were handed one-month prison sentences on February 8, 2008, on charges of libel.

Write A Letter

  • expressing concern that Aboubacar Gourouza has been sentenced to one month in prison in violation of his right 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 release Gourouza immediately and unconditionally and to quash his conviction.

Send Your Letter To

President
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
Fax: (212)753-6931
E-mail: niger@un.int

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

Please send appeals immediately. Check with PEN if sending appeals after April 12, 2008: ftw [at] pen.org