Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

Part 1

Niger is a multiparty republic that returned to democracy in 1999. In 2004 citizens elected Mamadou Tandja to a second five-year presidential term in an election that international observers deemed generally free and fair. In February 2007 the predominantly Tuareg rebel group Movement of Nigeriens for Justice launched a series of attacks against military and strategic installations in the north. In response the government declared a state of alert in the north on August 24, 2007. Respect for human rights decreased during 2007. Human rights abuses included extrajudicial killings and use of excessive force by security forces; poor jail and prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; prolonged pretrial detention; executive interference in the judiciary; excessive use of force and other abuses in internal conflicts; restrictions on press freedom; forcible dispersal of demonstrators; restrictions on freedom of movement; corruption; societal discrimination and violence against women and children; female genital mutilation; trafficking in persons; the practice of slavery by some groups; and forced child labor.

Part 2

The U.S. government's immediate priority for promoting democratic principles and human rights is working to remove restrictions on the ability of press and human rights groups to conduct investigations and reporting. The United States continues to talk with government officials, the media, and NGOs regarding travel and media restrictions in relation to the conflict in the north and other alleged government restrictions on their ability to operate.

The United States supports efforts to ensure free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections in 2009. This includes preparing for a peaceful transfer of power as President Tandja is constitutionally precluded from running for another term. Strengthening government decentralization processes also remains a priority. The United States also continues to address issues such as corruption, trafficking in persons, discrimination against women, slavery, and child labor.

Part 3

U.S. officials routinely raise concerns about human rights abuses with high level government officials. The United States also stresses the importance of successful 2009 elections. Until the government imposed restrictions on traveling to the north, U.S. officials also participated in youth-oriented activities throughout the entire country. Such activities included those related to anticorruption and peace and tolerance efforts.

The U.S. government works with NGOs to foster good governance by training local government officials, supporting community radio, and improving implementation of the peace agreement that ended the 1990s rebellion.

Part 4

The U.S. government funds programs to reduce corruption through activities such as strengthening the legal framework, improving public procurement systems, and supporting civil society and media anticorruption efforts, particularly in the health and education sectors. Additional U.S. government programs support 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 exploitive child labor.

Public diplomacy activities also play a key role in advancing democracy and freedom. The U.S. ambassador and other U.S. officials have participated in public diplomacy activities including speaking about media capacity and press freedom. Other public diplomacy programs have addressed issues including religious tolerance among Muslim and non-Muslims, trafficking in persons, and corruption.