A coalition of workers' unions and civil society organizations, the Fairness/Equality Coalition against the High Cost of Living, organized national strikes in June and July to protest at government economic policies that increased the cost of basic utilities such as water and electricity. Talks between the government and the Coalition began but produced no outcome by the end of 2006.
Trials of military personnel
In March and in October, a military court tried more than 170 soldiers accused of staging a mutiny in August 2002 and convicted more than 100. The defendants were not permitted to choose their lawyers. One soldier was sentenced to nine years' imprisonment for attempted murder, but most were freed, having already served four years in pre-trial detention.
Freedom of expression under attack
Throughout 2006, the authorities arrested journalists covering cases of government mismanagement or other political issues. Several were sentenced to prison terms.
• In September, publisher Mamane Abou and journalist Oumarou Keita of the weekly Le Républicain were sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment on charges of spreading false news and defaming the state after publishing an article accusing the Prime Minister of seeking favour with Iran. They were released on appeal in November.
Threat of mass expulsion
In October, the government announced it would expel some 100,000 Arab pastoralists from the south-east to Chad, reportedly because of rising tensions with Indigenous communities. Following international protests, the government announced that it would instead relocate the Mahamid Arabs to more fertile pastoral regions.
AI country reports/visits
• Niger: Prisoners of conscience (AI Index: AFR 43/001/2006)