The NGOs Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International on Thursday called for the immediate release of those detained "arbitrarily" in Niger by the military regime that emerged from the July 26 coup d'état, while also denouncing a crackdown on journalists and government opponents.
The Nigerien authorities "should release all those arbitrarily detained", say the two NGOs in a press release.
The military regime must "ensure respect for human rights and guarantee freedom of the press", said HRW Sahel researcher Ilaria Allegrozzi, quoted in the text.
The two NGOs point out that since the coup that overthrew him, President Mohamed Bazoum has been held in his presidential residence with his wife and son. They add that several ministers of the deposed regime have been incarcerated in various prisons throughout the country.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch "consider their detentions to be arbitrary because they are politically motivated".
They also claim that "the authorities have threatened, harassed, intimidated and arbitrarily arrested journalists, young people and alleged political opponents, as well as people expressing critical opinions".
Journalists in Niger "are under increasing pressure to carry out their activities", they point out, adding that "local and international journalists have been threatened, verbally harassed online and physically assaulted".
The two organizations mention, for example, the case of Nigerian journalist Samira Sabou, who was arrested on September 30 and charged with, among other things, "production and dissemination of data likely to disturb public order", before being released provisionally on October 11.
They also denounce the suspension of broadcasting by Radio France Internationale (RFI) and France 24, ordered by the military authorities in early August.
"Self-censorship has become a survival tactic for many of us", said a Nigerien journalist quoted by HRW.
NGOs are also reporting physical violence committed by regime supporters in the streets of Niamey.
According to Ousmane Diallo, Sahel researcher at Amnesty International's West and Central Africa office, "freedom of expression, dissent and press freedom are essential to the enjoyment of other rights and to government accountability".