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Niger: Journalist held for COVID-19 post

    Friday, March 13, 2020 - 15:47

    Mamane Kaka Touda © Private

    UPDATE: RELEASED March 26. Mamane Kaka Touda says “I want to thank and encourage those who were mobilized for my release. Arbitrary arrests and detentions will not stop us doing our work and keep fighting. I am grateful. Thank you!” No further action is required.

    Journalist Mamane Kaka Touda is currently being detained at Niamey Civil Prison, Niamey, Niger, having published a post on social media regarding a suspected case of COVID-19 infection in the Emergency Department of the Niamey Reference Hospital on 5 March. He was arrested at home on the same day and charged with “disseminating data tending to disturb public order”.  

    Since 9 March, prison guards have refused to take the food delivered by Mamane Kaka Touda’s aunt and give it to him because his aunt does not have a communication permit. The permit is only given to close relatives, including spouses, parents and siblings.

    Amnesty International is concerned that Mamane Kaka Touda’s rights have been violated. The authorities must protect journalists, whistle blowers, activists and human rights defenders, in accordance with the country's international obligations to protect human rights.


    Additional information

    Mamane Kaka Touda, journalist, human rights defender and member of the NGO "Alternative Espaces Citoyens", is detained in the Civil Prison of Niamey, the capital of Niger. He published alerts on social media about a suspected case of COVID-19 infection on 5 March. In a statement released the same day, the hospital said there were no cases of COVID-19 in its departments. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health subsequently confirmed the suspected case mentioned by Mamane Kaka Touda, explaining that an Italian national had indeed been admitted there "as a precaution". The testing was negative, and he left hospital. Niger has not yet identified any case of the COVID-19 infection in the country. [Update of 24 March: Niger now has one confirmed case.]