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Niger Lifts Ousted President Bazoum’s Immunity For Prosecution

NIGER’S highest court has lifted the immunity of the country’s democratically elected president, Mohamed Bazoum, nearly a year after he was overthrown in a military coup. This move allows the military junta to prosecute him for alleged high treason, according to Bazoum’s lawyer, Reed Brody.

Since the military coup that toppled his government last summer, Bazoum and his family have been under house arrest. The junta plans to prosecute him for ‘high treason’ and undermining national security. Earlier this year, legal proceedings were initiated to lift his immunity through a newly established State Court, which now serves as Niger’s highest judicial authority.

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Before his ouster, Niger was a key security partner for Western nations in the Sahel, a region plagued by violent extremism. However, the junta has since expelled Western troops and sought security assistance from the Russian mercenary group Wagner. The Pentagon announced that US forces would withdraw by mid-September.

Human Rights Watch has reported significant irregularities in the State Court proceedings, including violations of Bazoum’s rights to present evidence, communicate with legal counsel, and have a fair hearing before an independent court. ‘We never even got to speak to our client,’ Brody told The Associated Press (AP), calling the ruling a ‘travesty of justice.’

Bazoum’s legal team has faced restricted access to him and case materials since last October. In late 2023, the highest court of the West African regional bloc ECOWAS ruled that Bazoum and his family were arbitrarily detained and called for his reinstatement.

These developments raise concerns about the fairness and integrity of the judicial process under Niger’s current regime.

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