Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Report

Introduction

The following information reports U.S. Government priorities and activities of the U.S. mission in Niger to promote democracy and human rights. For background on Niger's human rights conditions, please see the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and the International Religious Freedom Reports at www.state.gov.

Part 1: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives

The U.S. Government's immediate priority for promoting democratic principles and human rights in the country emphasizes restoring democracy, supporting transparency and rule of law, and bolstering human rights. Promoting efforts to strengthen media capacity, including community radio, is also a priority. Conflict mitigation and anticorruption efforts are also areas of U.S. focus. In addition to advancing democracy and good governance, the United States continues to focus on issues such as trafficking in persons, discrimination against women, religious tolerance, servitude and slavery, forced labor, and child labor.

The U.S. Government ceased nonhumanitarian assistance to the country and suspended its Millennium Challenge Account Threshold Program in response to numerous undemocratic actions taken by then president Tandja in 2009. On February 18, 2010, a group of military officers, the Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy (CSRD), forcibly seized power in a relatively bloodless coup, detaining the cabinet, prime minister, and president. Pledging to restore democracy, root out corruption and abuse of privilege in the socio-political environment, and forge national reconciliation, the CSRD named a transitional government, which established the National Consultative Council to make policy recommendations to the CSRD, including on the duration of the transition; a Transitional Constitutional Council, tasked with determining the upcoming schedule of elections; and the Committee for Fundamental Texts, charged with reviewing and redrafting the constitution, charter of political parties, charter of the opposition, policy on public access to information, and electoral code.

Part 2: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human Rights and Democratic Governance

The U.S. Government stresses the importance of free and fair elections that are inclusive and broadly participative in order to anchor the country's efforts to reestablish democracy. The United States supports a freer media environment in the country and strengthened media reporting through its diplomatic and assistance efforts. U.S. officials continued to discuss with government officials, the media, and NGOs regarding travel and media restrictions in relation to the conflict in the north and other reported government restrictions on their ability to operate. The government lifted the state of alert for the north in November 2009; press freedoms expanded dramatically following the February 18, 2010, coup by the CSRD.

The U.S. ambassador and other U.S. officials have participated in a wide range of public diplomacy activities, including speaking about media capacity and press freedom, as well as fostering journalistic professionalism. With the Nigerien Network of Journalists for Human Rights, the U.S. embassy in November 2009 cosponsored a series of workshops in regional capitals to promote the free and professional investigation and reporting of human rights abuses. The U.S. Government supports community radio stations and other activities designed to reach targeted audiences, such as youth and ethnic minorities.

To address corruption, the U.S. Government funded activities prior to the end of 2009 to strengthen the legal framework, improve public procurement systems, enhance efficiency of revenue collections, and support civil society and media anticorruption efforts. The U.S. Government works to reduce corruption by improving governance. For example, one program-–suspended in late December 2009 due to then president Tandja's undemocratic actions--worked with tax authorities to identify and reduce fraud and noncompliance in revenue collection. Another included training local officials to improve the business climate. Additionally, a U.S.-sponsored youth-oriented activity brought live musical performances to each of the nation's regional capitals to promote peace, tolerance, and anticorruption.

Efforts to eliminate exploitative labor practices, including human trafficking, as well as to address religious freedom, continue to be areas of focus for the United States. The U.S. Government supported training law enforcement officers on combating human trafficking, workshops on ending the practice of slavery, the provision of shelter and reintegration services to trafficking victims, and efforts to eliminate exploitative child labor. The United States continues to lobby for the passage of an antitrafficking law and the promulgation of a list of the worst forms of child labor by the government. U.S.-sponsored program supports civil society efforts to strengthen implementation and oversight of existing child protection and labor laws. U.S. public diplomacy programs continue to address issues including religious tolerance among Muslim and non-Muslims and the role of women in Islam.

[This is a mobile copy of Niger]