December 3, 2005

Niger court jails journalist for defamation

NIAMEY (Reuters) - A court in Niger has jailed a local
journalist for two months for publishing a report which
suggested the country's state treasurer could face charges of

Siddo Elhadj, who as state treasurer is a public servant in
charge of the treasury, filed a complaint after the privately
owned "Le Visionnaire" reported he might stand trial for
embezzling almost 17 billion CFA francs.

The court also ordered Abdoulkarim Salifou Soumaila, the
weekly's managing editor, late on Friday to pay a nominal 1 CFA
franc in damages to Elhadj.

Niger's government has said it plans to decriminalize
violations of press laws and is currently considering a bill to
amend the relevant legislation.

"In announcing this sentence, the justice system has taken
a great step back in freedom of expression and opinion in our
country," said Oumarou Keita, secretary general of Niger's
private journalists' union.