I am concerned to learn that it has been five months that activists Maikoul Zodi, Halidou Mounkaila and Moudi Moussa have been held in arbitrary pre-trial detention following their arrest on 15 March during a protest that they organised in Niamey, Niger’s capital, demanding an investigation into the allegations of misuse of funds by the Ministry of Defence. Their request for provisional release has been denied three times, the most recent on 6 August when the Court’s decision to release them on bail of XOF 5 million each (about USD $9021) was successfully appealed by the prosecutor’s office. In light of the above, I urge you to ensure that:
- Maikoul Zodi, Halidou Mounkaila and Moudi Moussa are immediately released;
- Prior to their release, they have prompt, regular and unrestricted access to their family and a lawyer of their choice. If contact visits are restricted due to Covid-19 preventive measures, they must be replaced with other means of contact, for example, by phone, emails or video calls;
- Put an end to harassment, intimidation and attacks against members of civil society;
- Carry out an independent, impartial, thorough and effective investigation into the deaths during the demonstration on 15 March to bring the perpetrators to justice, with due regard for the right to a fair trial.