English PEN protests the one-month prison sentence imposed on Aboubacar Gourouza, managing editor of L’Eveil Plus, on 6 March 2008, on charges of bringing the Nigeri justice system into disrepute. PEN considers this custodial sentence to be in contravention of Gourouza’s right to freedom of expression, and calls for his immediate release and the quashing of his conviction.
On 29 January 2008, L’Eveil Plus, an independent bi-weekly 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 decision was to keep the mayor of Niamey in prison.
The editor was arrested by the Criminal Investigation Department around 25 February 2008, on two separate charges of defamation and contempt of justice. According to the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), the defamation charge, lodged by a politician, was dropped following the intervention of the Union of Independent Journalists. However, the second case continued at the Court in Niamey.
During the trial, the prosecution requested a three-month prison sentence and a fine. In the event, Gourouza was sentenced to one month in prison and fined 50,000 CFA francs (approx. 76 Euros) on 6 March 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 bi-monthly publication L’Enquêteur, who were also handed a one-month prison sentence on 8 February 2008, on charges of libel.
Please send appeals:
Expressing concern that Aboubacar Gourouza has been sentenced to one month in prison for his writings;
Stating that this conviction is in violation of Gourouza’s right to freedom of expression and opinion, as 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 Gourouza immediately and unconditionally and to quash his conviction.
Send your appeals to:
Président de la République: S.E.M .Tandja Mamadou
PO Box 369
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
Fax: 1 (212) 753 6931
Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/bulletins/nigernewspapereditorgiven1-monthprisonsentence/