STORY: NIGER HUMAN RIGHTS UPDATE - OHCHR
SOURCE: UNTV CH
ASPECT RATIO: 16:9
DATELINE: 16 AUGUST 2023, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk called on Friday for Niger’s democratically elected officials to be released “at once”, following their detention by coup leaders last month. In a statement released on Friday, Mr. Türk urged the generals to immediately restore constitutional order.
Speaking in Geneva, his spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said that Mr. Türk had “grave concerns” for the people of Niger. “The people have already been through so much hardship over the years. Now, the very people who they elected to build a pathway to end their destitution have been removed by force,” she said.
Ms. Shamdasani noted that Niger was one of the poorest countries in the world, with nearly half of the population living on less than $2.15 a day and millions reliant on humanitarian assistance.
She deplored that the country’s people have been forced to endure “even more misery” following the coup, which has triggered border closures, trade interruptions and a surge in food prices. Even before the coup, over three million people were chronically food insecure according to the UN World Food Programme, and close to half of all children under five were suffering from chronic malnutrition. The OHCHR spokesperson reiterated Mr. Türk’s call for “full and free access for humanitarian assistance” to allow “critical food, medical and other relief supplies into the country”.
Ms. Shamdasani said there had been a “very worrying” clampdown on civic space which was impacting freedom of expression and public assembly. This included allegations of intimidation against journalists and bans on international media outlets. She also noted that recently there has been a “deeply troubling” pattern of unconstitutional changes in government by military forces in West Africa – the Niger putsch being the sixth in the region in the past three years. “The costs are always borne by the local population,” she said, warning that the coup had taken away the “key hope” and “key platform” that people had to try to resolve the “very difficult, serious problems that the country is facing on the economic front, on the security front, on every front”, she told journalists.