Cablegate: Niger: Allegations of Torture
PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHNM #0226 0531259
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 221259Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY NIAMEY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4129
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUZEHAA/CDR USEUCOM INTEL VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
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RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
UNCLAS NIAMEY 000226
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM NG
SUBJECT: NIGER: ALLEGATIONS OF TORTURE
1. (U) The Newspaper "Le Republicain" carried a front page
article in its February 14-20 edition reporting the torture
of a number of civilians by the security forces in Agadez.
It recounts two specific cases.
2. (U) The first involves three cattle sellers who were
detained on January 18. They claim to have been the victims
of "cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment." One of the
victims is reported to have given the following account to
the Nigerien Association for the Defense of Human Rights
(know by its French acronym ANDDH): "They whipped me several
times and demanded that I show them where I placed the
landmines; I swore to them in vain that I knew nothing. They
then burned my feet with burning plastic." The article
features two photos of a man with burned feet.
3. (U) The second incident cited concerns the alleged
"torture and humiliation" of a young woman named Amina
Ahandaga while being detained the night of January 15-16.
She was reportedly suspected of being involved in the
throwing of two grenades at a police station. She is quoted
as saying: "When I was arrested the men took me to the police
station. There they tied my wrists to my feet and passed an
iron bar between my joined limbs before suspending me between
two tables. I was only wearing a nightgown and underwear.
One of them whipped and insulted me. They wanted me to
recognize that it was me that threw the grenades. I swore
that I had never seen a grenade. Another slapped me hard.
Look at my back! I even showed the bruises to the prosecutor
and I'm waiting for justice.... They then threw me in my cell
completely naked. It took until the next morning when a nice
officer returned my clothes."
4. (SBU) On February 19 the DCM and political assistant
raised the above allegations with the head of the ANDDH,
Khalid Ikhiri. Ikhiri noted that ANDDH's annual human rights
report would be published soon. Its central theme will be
torture. He confirmed that ANDDH received the testimony of
the men cited in paragraph 2, but not the women cited in
paragraph 3. He dismissed those reports as "nothing" in the
sense that there are so many other similar cases and thQ
cases cited are not special. Moreover, hQaid, many people
are simply executed.
5. (SBU) Ikhiri complained that it is more difficult to
investigate human rights issues now than it was during the
rebellion of the early 1990s because of GON restrictions on
travel in the north. The GON has also refused ANDDH's
request to meet with the MNJ. ANDDH is waiting for a reply
from the GON to its request to visit prisons. Ikhiri said
that not everything on the MNJ blog is true, but the GON's
lack of response to MNJ allegations leads people to believe
6. (SBU) Comment: While both have their flaws, "Le
Republicain" is one of the most respected private weekly
publications in Niger and ANDDH is the leading Nigerien human
rights group. ANDDH generally only makes statement that can
be supported. It has received some USG assistance in the
past. Interestingly, the MNJ web site has not mentioned the
incidents cited in paragraphs 2 and 3 above.