Niger

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Persistent violations
  • Response to malnutrition and famine[1]
  • Inadequate health care and high rates of infant and child mortality[2]
  • Early marriage[3]
  • Female genital mutilation[4]
  • Death penalty for children[5]
  • Life imprisonment of children[6]
  • Violence against children[7]
  • Corporal punishment[8]
  • Trafficking of children[9]
  • Child labour[10]
  • Sexual abuse and exploitation of children[11]
  • Discrimination against girls in access to education[12]
  • Lack of human rights education[13]

For more details, go here

Footnotes
  1. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food
  2. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Universal Periodic Review
  3. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Universal Periodic Review
  4. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Universal Periodic Review
  5. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review
  6. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review
  7. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review
  8. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review
  9. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review
  10. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review
  11. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review
  12. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review
  13. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review



Introduction

A landlocked West African country, Niger borders Nigeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Libya, Chad and Algeria. Nigeria has experienced several periods of military rule and numerous coup-d'etats - the most recent of which, in 2010, prevented the extension of the incumbent president's rule and ensured the largely free and fair elections of 2011. Tensions remain, however, as do concerns about the persistence of slavery and forced labour, harmful traditional practices, such as early marriage and female genital mutilation and issues around the recurring conflicts with Tuareg separatists in the North.


Geography

Niger is a landlocked country in west Africa that straddles the border of the Sahara desert and the Sahel and shares borders with Nigeria, Chad, Libya, Algeria, Mali, Burkina Faso and Benin. Two-thirds of the country is desert, though the Niger river valley in the south allows for crop farming and seasonal pasture for cattle. The capital city is Niamey.

Population and language

Niger is geographically among the largest countries in west Africa, but has a relatively low population of around 16 million.[1] This population is largely made of people of Hausa, Djerma, Fulani and Tuareg backgrounds and over 95 per cent of the population are Muslim.[2] French is the official language, but Arabic is widely spoken as are a number of local languages within certain communities.

History and politics

Niger gained its independence from the French in 1960 and elected Hamani Diori as its first President. Democratic beginnings, however, quickly gave way to a one-party state, a military coup and military leaders. In 1990, civilian rule was reinstituted, but faced the challenge of the violent rebellion that began in the north of the country. In the decade that followed, coups, military rule and assassinations were a persistent feature of Nigerien politics, culminating in the election of Mamadou Tandja in 1999, who managed to maintain power under a nominally democratic Constitution until a further coup in 2010. The military again took control of the country and instituted a transitional government, though initial with no date set on when the country would return to civilian rule.[3] Later that year, a new Constitution was approved by referendum, the fifth such law since independence. Elections were subsequently held in which Mahamadou Issoufou emerged as President following a process that EU election observers called “calm and transparent”.[4] Political instability has continued, however, and in July 2011, five soldiers were arrested for allegedly plotting to assassinate current President Mahamadou Issoufou.[5]

Economy

Niger is among the world's poorest countries, and suffers from a high level of poverty and a low level of human development. As of 2011, 40 per cent of the population lived on less than US$1.25 per day and the UNDP rated the country 186 out of 187 in terms of human development in 2011.[6] Despite these figures, Niger has made significant progress in a number of areas: under 5 mortality has fallen sharply from 320 to 130 per thousand people over the last 20 years, and primary school enrolment has risen from 29 per cent to 76 per cent over the same period. Nevertheless the national economy, which is heavily reliant on the mining of rare minerals such as uranium, agriculture and informal trading is extremely vulnerable to exogenous shocks, and droughts can cause serious economic problems in addition to the risks of malnutrition and famine.[7]

Media and civil society

Media freedom has increased markedly in recent years, leading Reporters Without Borders to rate the country 29 out of 179 in its Press Freedom Index, a rise of 75 places in a single year.[8] This change reflects the improved situation since the end of the Tandja presidency. Three laws were adopted between June 2010 and February 2011 decriminalising media offences and establishing a new media regulatory body, as well as instituting a freedom of information law. Niger has 50 weekly and monthly publications, about 30 radio stations and seven TV stations, made up of publicly and privately owned outlets. Media have a great deal of freedom and express a range of opinions, but the country's press are generally underfunded, and journalists rarely obtain professional contracts. Online content is almost non-existent.[9]

Human rights and children's rights

The human rights situation in Niger has also improved dramatically since the return to civilian rule in 2000, though non-governmental organisations and the UN human rights mechanisms have continued to raise concerns about serious human rights violations. In the aftermath of the coup of 2010, a number of military officers and two leading political figures were arrested and detained without charge for several months. Al-Qa'ida in the Maghreb is also reportedly responsible for the kidnapping, killing and detention of foreign nationals in the north of the country.[10] Of particular concern for children are persistent reports of harmful traditional practices, including early marriage and female genital mutilation. Despite progress with regards to education, women and girls also suffer disproportionately from failings in the education system.[11]

  1. UNDESA, "Population Statistics 2011"
  2. Foreign and Commonwealth Office, "Niger Country Profile" 17 October 2011
  3. BBC, "Niger coup leaders name transitional government" 2 March 2010
  4. See European Union Election Observation Mission to Niger 2011
  5. BBC, "Niger 'foils plot against President Mahamadou Issoufou'" 26 July 2011
  6. UNDP, "Niger Country Profile: Human Development Indicators" 2011
  7. The World Bank, "Niger: Country Brief" April 2012
  8. Reporters Without Borders, "Press Freedom Index 2011/12"
  9. Reporters Without Borders, "World Report: Niger" October 2011 and "'Turning the page'- report on hopes for media freedom in Niger and Guinea" 28 July 2011
  10. Amnesty International, "World Report 2012: The state of the world's human rights"
  11. CRIN, "NIGER: Persistent violations of children's rights"

Sources:

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