niger junta repeals law aimed at curbing migration to europe
Niger’s military junta has repealed a 2015 anti-migration law that curbed migration through Niger into Europe. Niger, which is a hub for those trying to enter Europe, repealed the anti-migration law on Saturday and announced it Monday evening on state television.
Niger’s military force are risking their complicated relations with the European Union (EU) with this move. According to a statement from the government, junta leader General Abdourahamane Tchiani has signed the order repealing the anti-migration law.
The 2015 anti-migration law had criminalized the trafficking of migrants through the West African nation to the EU. The law was passed because the number of migrants traveling across the Mediterranean Sea from Africa reached record high in 2015. The EU came under pressure to stop the influx.
Why did Niger revoke the law?
The repealing of the 2015 law is seen as the junta’s effort to regain local support. General Abdourahamane Tchiani said that the law “did not take into account the interests of Niger and its citizens.”
The order repealing the 2015 law also erases previous convictions under the law. The Ministry of Justice will also release all those convicted under the law.
The anti-migration law, backed by the EU, targeted people smugglers who faced up to five years in prison if convicted.
The number of migrants moving through Niger also decreased significantly over the years because of the law. The EU also invested $5.5 billion Trust Fund for Africa to eradicate the root causes of migration.
The law also allowed the detention of migrants in temporary camps. Niger’s junta, which took power in a July coup, repealed the law in order to gain support from people in the northern desert communities, who had benefited most from migration.
The repeal of the anti-migration law further complicates the relations between Niger and the EU. Tensions have been high since the EU slapped sanctions on Niger after a military coup deposed President Mohamed Bazoum in July.
Niger is a main spot for those trying to enter Europe via neighboring Libya and Algeria. The impact of this decision on migration to Europe is yet to be seen.