International PEN is seriously concerned about the health and well being of Le Canard Déchaîné editor Abdoulaye Tiémogo, who contracted malaria after being imprisoned in August 2009. On August 31, Tiémogo was transferred from a hospital in the capital Niamey to a remote prison, where he is reportedly no longer receiving adequate medical attention. PEN calls on the Nigerien authorities to ensure that the editor receives the treatment he requires. It considers Tiémogo’s imprisonment to be in violation of his right to freedom of expression and is therefore also calling for his immediate and unconditional release.

Background Information

Abdoulaye Tiémogo, editor of the weekly newspaper Le Canard Déchaîné, was sentenced to three months in prison on August 18, 2009 for allegedly “casting discredit on a judicial ruling.” He had been in police custody in the capital Niamey since August 1.

There are serious fears for Tiémogo’s health and well being. On August 22, just four days after sentencing, he was reportedly hospitalized after contracting malaria at Niamey’s central prison. However, on August 31, Tiémogo was transferred from the hospital to a prison in the remote town of Ouallam, some 90 kilometers to the north of Niamey. The move was against doctors’ advice and Tiémogo is reportedly no longer receiving adequate medical attention.

Tiémogo’s sentence is reportedly related to a television interview in which he discussed Le Canard Déchaîné’s coverage of the government’s decision to issue an international arrest warrant against exiled former Prime Minister Hama Amadou on corruption charges.

 However, the editor was originally arrested and questioned over articles he published on alleged corruption scandals involving the national human rights commission and high-ranking officials, including the Minister of Justice and the son of current President Mamadou Tandja. Tiémogo was arrested on August 1 along with Le Courrier publisher Ali Soumana. These cases were reportedly dropped in order to charge Tiémogo under the penal code instead.

The editor has appealed the three-month sentence and requested bail. If his appeal is unsuccessful, he is expected to be released on November 1, 2009.

Tiémogo has experienced harassment from the authorities for a number of years. He went into hiding for nine months from August 2008 until May 2009 after President Tanja sued him for libel over an article suggesting that he was preparing his son to succeed him; the case was subsequently dropped. In 2002, the editor served an eight-month prison sentence over articles alleging corruption by  former Prime Minister Amadou.

Write A Letter

  • Expressing serious concern for the health and well being of Le Canard Déchaîné editor Abdoulaye Tiémogo, who on August 31, 2009 was reportedly transferred from a hospital in the capital Niamey to a remote prison, where he is no longer receiving adequate medical attention for the malaria he contracted while in prison;
  • Calling on the Nigerien authorities to ensure that Tiémogo receives the treatment he requires while he remains in custody;
  • Pointing out that the three-month sentence handed to Tiémogo on August 18, 2009 for allegedly “casting discredit on a judicial ruling” appears to be in violation of his right to freedom of expression and opinion, guaranteed by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Niger is party;
  • Urging the Nigerien authorities to release Tiémogo immediately and unconditionally.

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 appeals immediately. Check with PEN if sending appeals after November 8, 2009: ftw[at]pen.org