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Executive Summary

Niger is a multiparty republic. On February 21, Mohamed Bazoum won the presidential election with an estimated 56 percent of the vote in the second of two rounds of voting. He assumed office in April in the first peaceful transfer of power in the country’s 61-year history, although the office stayed within the ruling party. International and domestic observers found both rounds of the presidential election to be peaceful, free, fair, transparent, and inclusive. In legislative elections conducted in December 2020, in tandem with the first round of presidential elections, the ruling party won 79 of 171 seats, with 127 seats for the ruling coalition, and various opposition parties dividing the rest. International and local observers found the legislative elections to be equally peaceful, free, fair, transparent, and inclusive.

The National Police, under the Ministry of Interior, is responsible for urban law enforcement. The Gendarmerie, under the Ministry of National Defense, has primary responsibility for rural security. The National Guard, also under the Ministry of Interior, is responsible for domestic security and the protection of high-level officials and government buildings. The armed forces, under the Ministry of National Defense, are responsible in some parts of the country for internal security. Every 90 days the National Assembly reviews the state of emergency declaration in effect in the Diffa Region and in parts of the Tahoua and Tillaberi Regions. Civilian authorities generally maintained effective control over security forces, although at times individual soldiers and police acted independently of the command structure. There were credible reports that members of the security forces committed some abuses.

Significant human rights issues included credible reports of: unlawful or arbitrary killings, including extrajudicial killings by or on behalf of government; torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment by or on behalf of government; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest or detention; political prisoners or detainees; serious abuses in a conflict, including killing of civilians, enforced disappearances or abductions, physical abuses or punishment, and unlawful recruitment and use of child soldiers by Boko Haram and ISIS affiliates; serious restrictions on free expression and media, including unjustified arrests or prosecutions of journalists, and the existence of criminal libel laws; lack of investigation of and accountability for gender-based violence including but not limited to domestic or intimate partner violence, and child, early and forced marriage; and existence of the worst forms of child labor.

The government took some steps to investigate officials who committed abuses or engaged in corruption, but impunity remained a significant problem.

Terrorist groups targeted and killed civilians, committed forced disappearances, inflicted cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, and recruited child soldiers. Wary of increasing attacks on its borders as well as spillover from insecurity in Libya, the government participated in campaigns against terrorist groups with the governments of Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, and Nigeria.

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U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future