Niger’s Junta-Controlled Court Strips Immunity from Ousted President Bazoum

In a controversial move, Niger’s highest court, now under the control of the military junta that seized power last summer, has lifted the immunity of the country’s democratically elected president, Mohamed Bazoum. This decision paves the way for the junta to prosecute Bazoum for alleged high treason and undermining national security.

Bazoum and his family have been under house arrest since the coup, which has dramatically shifted Niger’s political landscape. Once a key Western security partner in the Sahel region, the junta has ordered the withdrawal of Western troops and turned to the Russian mercenary group Wagner for assistance.

Human rights organizations have criticized the legal proceedings against Bazoum, citing serious irregularities and violations of due process. Bazoum’s lawyers have been denied proper access to their client and case materials, and the president has been unable to present evidence in his defense or be heard before an independent court.

Reed Brody, Bazoum’s lawyer, denounced the ruling as a “mockery” of the rule of law, emphasizing the lack of communication with his client and calling the process a “travesty of justice.”

The decision to strip Bazoum’s immunity comes despite a ruling by the highest court of the West African regional bloc ECOWAS, which declared that Bazoum and his family were arbitrarily detained and called for his restoration to office.