(Aug. 29, 2008) On August 19, 2008, the Higher Council for Communications, the media regulatory body of Niger, ordered a radio and television broadcast company to suspend operations for a month. The broadcaster, Dounia, based in the capital city, Niamey, was not given any explanation beyond the statement that it had failed to “respect the terms of residence,” although it had been warned in late June 2008 that it was considered to have been “broadcasting elements inciting violence and confrontation” in a report about police violence during the arrest of the former Prime Minister on embezzlement charges that month. Dounia was not given any chance to formally protest the August government action. The decision was condemned by the international organization Reporters Without Borders, which has been critical of the treatment of news organizations in the country. The group's press release stated,
Niamey's privately-owned media are being forced with increasing frequency to submit to decrees that are clearly being issued for purely political reasons. … This is a disturbing development, especially as the authorities no longer offer any clear explanation to the media they punish. … The authorities can always brush aside our protests as coming from abroad, but they cannot continue to hide behind respect for Niger's sovereignty if they break their own rules.
Niger's government had suspended the operations of another broadcaster, Sahara FM, the main radio station in the northern city of Agadez, indefinitely, beginning in April 2008.
In a separate action on August 19, an appeals court overturned an investigating judge's decision to release Moussa Kaka, a Niger-based correspondent for Radio France Internationale who has been imprisoned since September 20, 2007. (Press Release, Reporters Without Borders, Niger: Broadcaster Suspended for One Month Without Explanation (Aug. 21, 2008), available at http://allafrica.com/stories/200808220043.html.)