I am writing to express my concern about the detention of journalist Mamane Kaka Touda in Niamey Civil Prison since his arrest on 5 March.
Since 9 March, prison guards have refused to take the food delivered by Mamane Kaka Touda’s family and give it to him because they do not have a communication permit. His aunt, with whom he has lived in Niamey for more than 25 years, is not considered to be a close relative and is therefore not allowed to visit him. Mamane Kaka Touda’s immediate family live in N’Guigmi, in the Diffa region, 1,493km from Niamey where he is detained.
Despite the statement of the penitentiary administration of Niamey, published on 11 March, denying allegations of visit restrictions for Mamane Kaka Touda, Moussa Tchangari and Ibrahim Diori, members of NGO Alternative Espaces Citoyens, were not allowed to visit him on 10 and 11 March respectively.
Mamane Kaka Touda needs medical assistance. He is detained in a small cell, in which his movement is severely restricted. Pain in his foot is preventing him from sleeping. He has also been experiencing dizziness due to the harsh conditions of his detention.
Mamane Kaka Touda is being arbitrarily detained solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression. In light of the above, I urge you to:
- Immediately and unconditionally release Mamane Kaka Touda and drop all charges against him. This is especially urgent as Niger is dealing with its first case of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which could further expose detainees to health risks;
- Ensure that, pending his release, Mamane Kaka Touda’s conditions of detention are in line with international standards, including access to water, food and regular access to his family. If contact visits are restricted due to COVID-19 prevention measures, they must be replaced with other means of contacting his family, by phone, video call or emails, for example;
- Provide Mamane Kaka Touda with any appropriate medical care he might need.