Thu. Jul 25th, 2024

Niger’s highest court has lifted the immunity of democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum, opening the door for the military junta to try him for high treason.

Bazoum was ousted from power in a military coup last summer, and he has been under house arrest with his family since then.

The military junta authorities said they plan to try him on charges of “high treason” and undermining national security, and earlier this year began legal procedures to lift his immunity in the newly established state court, which has become the highest judicial authority in the country.

Human Rights Watch indicated that there were serious irregularities in the procedures before the state court, including a violation of Bazoum’s rights to present evidence for his defense, communicate with his lawyer, and ensure a fair trial before an independent court, as Bazoum’s lawyers have not been able to communicate with him since October. In the past, their access to case materials was restricted.

It is noteworthy that Niger, under Bazoum’s rule, was the West’s last major security partner in the Sahel region, which has become a hotbed of terrorism due to extremist Islamic groups.

Late last year, the highest court in the West African regional bloc (ECOWAS) ruled that the detention of Bazoum and his family was arbitrary and called for his reinstatement.

These developments raised questions from observers about human rights and the legal system in the country, as well as their impact on regional stability in the Sahel region.

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