An appeal court in the southern Niger town of Zinder has ordered yesterday the release of human rights defender Sadat Illiya Dan Malam who was arrested on 18 April 2018 and spent 19 months behind bars. At that time, several civil society organisations in Niger had been protesting a finance law that contains severe austerity measures.
He was arrested for voicing his concerns over the alleged devastating effects of the new finance law, taxes and austerity measures on small traders and low-income households.
Even though Sadat did not take part in the protests, he was charged with “participation in an insurrectionary movement” and “conspiracy against state security”.
On 20 May 2019 these charges were downgraded to “insult against members of the political party PNDS Tarayya” (Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism) and the court ordered his release.
However, the prosecutor appealed the decision and Sadat Illiya Dan Malam remained in detention until yesterday’s appeal court decision.
Responding to the news, Kiné-FatimDiop, Amnesty International West Africa Campaigner said:“The release of Sadat Illiya Dan Malam is a welcome news and we are delighted that he will now be reunited with his family and friends after spending 19 months in jail.
“While he can now enjoy his freedom, he should have never been arrested in the first place.
Sadat is a leading civil society figure and the coordinator of the Patriotic Movement for Citizenship (MPC in French) in Zinder. (Source: Amnesty Intl.)