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Niger Law, Corruption and Security

Niger uncovered an enormous corruption case in the armaments budget in March 2020; In connection with the discovery of this scandal, the journalist Samira Sabou still risks a prison sentence of up to 3 years. On March 15, 2020, thousands protested in front of Parliament; The fire that broke out killed people – the police had banned the demonstration because of concerns about the coronavirus (no case in Niger had been analyzed at that time).

According to constructmaterials, minimum democratic standards are achieved in Niger, but the rule of law is not fully guaranteed. The independence of the judiciary; In addition, depending on the legal case, different legal systems are used: traditional law, national law and Islamic jurisprudence (it should be emphasized here, however, that state and religion are separate in Niger).

Freedom of expression, freedom of the press and social integration are some of the deficits. According to the Ibrahim index on the rule of law in Africa, the development in Niger is going well – in the chart of the balance sheet for the last 10 years, Niger even ranks seventh. Abuses of office and corruption exist at all administrative levels. The corruption, both public and private, is a major brake on development in Niger, according to Transparency International, the country in the ranking of Transparency Index (CPI) in 2018 ranked 114 of 180 assigned ranks. The Nigerien state tries hard to reduce the corruption in the country and works with the appropriate bodies and organizations. The organizationHALCIA (Haute Autorité de Lutte contre la Corruption et les Infractions Assimilées) and the Nigerien association ANLC (Association Nigerienne de la lutte contre la corruption), the Nigerien structure of Transparency International, are committed to the fight against corruption.

Further deficits and difficulties of the judiciary are the barriers to direct access for residents to justice due to a lack of literacy; there are still too few lawyers and these lawyers are too expensive, so that 95% of the Nigerien population cannot fall back on them; the constitution guarantees civil rights for the population, but this is not really implemented across the country. The subject of human trafficking, which was criminalized in Niger, is also discussed, but the practical implementation is difficult to control – especially in the northern parts of the country. These rule of law problems are very well illustrated in the BTI country report documented, wherein between economic transformation (rank 105 of 129) and political transformation (rank 50 of 129) is to be distinguished. This results in an overall rank of 78 (out of 129). A GIZ project is dedicated to improving the rule of law and good governance.

According to statements from locals, the security situation in Niger had eased somewhat in late 2018 / early 2019. It had been classified as questionable since the evening of January 7, 2011, when two French people were kidnapped and later killed by AQMI in the Toulousian bar in the center of Niamey.

In December 2019, a terrorist attack was committed on a military base on the Mali-Nigerian border (Tillaberi region) near the village of Inates; 71 soldiers lost their lives. Presumably Islamists were the attackers.

On April 11, 2018, our colleague Jörg Lange was kidnapped in the west of the Niger near Ayourou – presumably by Islamists – and brought to Mali.

There is peace in Niger, but many parts of the country are not yet freely accessible – even by whites – as they were in the early 2000’s. Assassinations are constantly to be expected. Due to the political developments in the region (Libya, Mali, Nigeria-Boko Haram, AQMI) Niger has to contend with considerable security problems. The 5700 km long border can hardly be monitored everywhere. Then there is the drug and arms trade, which benefits from the ‘deserted’ areas; Niger is the preferred transit country for refugees from sub-Saharan Africa. These and other problems place considerable demands on state security in Niger; Cooperation partners support the security organs in improving their efficiency.

The massive increase in acts of violence by Boko Haram (now the ‘Islamic State of West Africa’) in Nigeria has long spread to neighboring countries, including Nigerien territory. More and more people from Nigeria are seeking protection in Niger, where many refugee camps have been set up in the Nigerian-Nigerian border region. In addition to Nigeria and Niger, Boko Haram also carries out his brutal acts in Cameroon and Chad. The attack on Charlie Hebdo magazine in January 2015 was accompanied by acts of violence in Niger, which burned 45 churches. In July 2016, Boko Haram carried out massive attacks in Bosso in the south-east of Niger, which led to numerous deaths and made 50,000 people flee.

With Algeria has Niger since 2014 an agreement that from the large Algerian cities migrants to the border with Niger can be regularly, being often not looked at the nationality.

The unrest among the Maghreb neighbors shakes the Niger. The unrest in Libya since 2011 and the power revolution have hit the country in particular. The death of Gaddafi has indeed brought some clarity for Libya itself, but did not lead to calming the region. Since December 18, 2012, Libya has repeatedly closed its borders with the neighboring states of Algeria, Niger, Chad and Sudan in order to keep refugee flows away. At the same time, the state has the opportunity to arrest migrants. However, this is also problematic for the population living in the border area. Many of the labor migrants from Libya were stranded in Niger. The Nigerien appear to be minor among these “return” refugees.”C’est la Libye qu’on bombarde, mais c’est le Niger qu’on do” it says in an article. In addition to Niger, many countries are affected, because the migrant workers sent 100 to 200 US $ a month from Libya to their home villages. The wave of illegal workers immigrating from sub-Saharan Africa via the Niger towards Libya is now continuing again.

To secure the border area of Mali – Niger – Libya, the USA set up a military base for drones near Agadez – in good agreement with France. The “Predator drones” are supposed to observe the inhospitable mountainous terrain of northern Niger and Mali and the neighboring regions and to track down camps of Al-Qaida fighters and other guerrilla troops. The people of Agadez only learned of this base through the international media. This by no means only provokes positive reactions in the north of Niger, but rather new dependencies are seen in it. The base is near Agadez built, which arouses criticism and fears, as in the event of an attack the population would be affected. Concerns that this base could destabilize Niger and are not in line with the constitution are raised by civil society.

In early November 2016, an attack on a military base was carried out in the border area with Mali (Banibangou, Tillaberi region). It has now also become known that the US Army was involved in a firefight in October 2017. US military has been stationed in Niger since the beginning of the millennium (Bush era); it is involved in the defense against drug trafficking, Islamist organizations, etc.

The Federal Republic of Germany set up a military base as part of MINUSMA; this was confirmed by Chancellor Merkel on her visit to Niger in 2016. The Bundeswehr primarily has observational and advisory activities. The Bundeswehr is helping the Nigerien armed forces urgently in the fight against human trafficking and, in addition to providing personnel with logistic material. And maintains the connection to Mali with the air transport base in Niamey, where several hundred soldiers are stationed; MedEvac in particular should be mentioned here.

In addition, the Nigerien police are supported by German police experts through seminars on internal security (e.g. Hanns Seidel Foundation in Zinder)

The creation of the G5 community in 2014 in the five Sahel countries Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad serves to support other regional communities in their work. The issue of security has great priority alongside poverty reduction, agriculture and infrastructure expansion. The seat is in Nouakchott, Mauritania. The Barkhane campaign (since August 1, 2014) is the deployment of a G5 force led by France to fight terrorism.

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