10 October 1997

Alert

Journalist Moussa Tchangari sentenced to three months in prison


Incident details

Moussa Tchangari

journalist(s)

legal action


(RSF/IFEX) - On 7 October 1997, Moussa Tchangari, director of
publication for the independent weekly "Alternative",
was convicted of "publishing an administrative document intended
for internal use" and sentenced to three months in prison. He was
also fined CFA 50,000 (about US$ 100).




Tchangari was arrested at his office in Niamey on 3 October 1997
following the publication, in the 2 October edition of the
newspaper, of an article entitled "300 millions de marche de
complaisance" ("An [CFA franc] 300 million deal of indulgence").
The article claimed that current Prime Minister Cisse Amadou had
suggested to Minister of Universities Sanoussi Djakon the names
of two businessmen who could be awarded a CFA 300 million deal
involving equipment at the University of Niamey. Djakon responded
to the Prime Minister that the government could not legally award
deals exceeding CFA 5 million without first making a public
tender for offers. The article reproduced the facsimiles of the
two letters.


For two days following his arrest, Tchangari was held at judicial
police headquarters. He appeared before the State Prosecutor on 6
October, and was tried the next day, following an emergency
procedure usually applied in cases of flagrant violations of the
law. The press law, which was promulgated on 25 July (see IFEX
alert of 8 August 1997), effectively prohibits the circulation or
reproduction of all administrative documents intended to be used
internally.


During the legal proceedings against Tchangari, his lawyer,
surname Coulibaly, contested the law, saying that it was
unconstitutional. The judge dismissed the claim, at which point
Coulibaly, at the request of Tchangari, gave up. On 8 October,
Coulibaly appealed the sentence and the judge's dismissal of his
claim. Tchangari remains in detention in the meantime.


Recommended Action


Send appeals to authorities:

  • protesting the press law promulgated on 25 July
  • emphasizing that the sections of the press law that relate to
    the professional obligations of journalists, as well as making
    both defamation and offending the President of Niger criminal
    offences, pose serious threats to the freedom of journalists
  • calling for the press law, which violates press freedom, to be
    repealed, and for the unconditional release of Moussa Tchangari,
    who is the first victim of the legislation
  • reminding them that Niger has ratified the International
    Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 19 of which
    recognises the right to inform and to be informed
  • calling on them to respect and have respected the engagements
    entered into by Niger in the international community and,
    therefore, to use their influence in order to ensure that
    independent Nigerian journalists can exercise their profession
    freely




    Appeals To



    General Ibrahim Barre Mainassara
    President of the National Salvation Council
    Niamey, Niger
    Fax: +227 72 2245/2472
    or via the Ministry of Communications: +227 72 2336


    Idi Ango Omar
    Ministry of the Interior
    Niamey, NIger
    Tel: +227 723262 or +227 733142







    Please copy appeals to the source if possible.





  • Source

    Reporters Without Borders
    47, rue Vivienne
    75002 Paris
    France
    rsf (@) rsf.org
    Fax:+33 1 45 23 11 51
    Niger
     
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