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Niger July 16, 2010
H.E. Salou Djibo
Chairman of the Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy
Office of the Head of State
Republic of Niger
When you assumed the powers of government earlier this year, there was good reason to hope for greater freedom for the press in Niger after grim years of jailing of journalists and the closing of broadcast stations. The very title you assumed spoke of more freedom. There were encouraging signs: the national conference of Niger’s media in June resulted in a law
de-criminalizing press offenses; the Niamey Press Club re-opened, and the privately-owned Sahara FM in Agadez got permission to resume broadcasting.
We are therefore puzzled by a report from the Media Foundation for West Africa that a decree issued by the minister of Communications will require foreign journalists and documentary film makers to get clearance from the ministry, to pay substantial fees before entering Niger, and to deposit original copies of their final works with the ministry. The fees for TV and radio stations will be the equivalent of US$3,740 and newspapers will pay approximately US$956.
Worse, the oversight that the Ministry will be able to exercise will discourage — if not prevent — journalists from reporting freely on events in Niger.
Many countries that are not democracies control their own domestic media. Even for them, it is rare to exert this kind of control over the foreign press. It seems that this decree will, if anything, attract the sort of unfriendly attention to Niger which we do not believe you would welcome.
The Overseas Press Club of America, which takes a deep interest in issues of freedom of the press around the world, hopes that this repressive decree will be withdrawn and that our hopes for the restoration of democracy in Niger will be fulfilled.
Co-chairmen, Freedom of the Press Committee
Madame Takoubacoye Aminata
Minister of Communications
c/o Embassy of the Republic of Niger
2204 R Street, NW
Washington, DC 20008
H.E. Aminata Djibrilla Maiga
Ambassador of Niger to the U.S.A.
Embassy of the Republic of Niger
2204 R Street, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Fax: (202) 483.3169
Permanent Mission of the Republic of Niger to the United Nations
417 East 50 Street
New York, NY 10022
H.E. Bernadette M. Allen
U.S. Ambassador to Niger
Embassy of the United States of America
Prof. Kwame Karikari
Media Foundation for West Africa