Niger Country Overview

Politics

Niger is a democratic, multi-party state. The current president is Mahamadou Issoufou, who was reelected to a second term in 2016. The country faces multiple security concerns from bordering nations, including insecurity in Libya, conflict in Mali, and violent extremism in northeastern Nigeria.[1] Niger has participated in the offensive against the armed group Boko Haram, and Boko Haram has attacked the country repeatedly in retaliation. The government has declared a state of emergency in the southeastern region of the country in the wake of these attacks.[2]

Economy

Niger is classified as a low-income economy by the World Bank.[3] The country’s GDP growth decreased from 6.9 percent in 2014 to 4.4 percent in 2015 due in part to low average rainfall and a resulting contraction in the agricultural sector. The economy is based largely on mining and agricultural activities.[4]

Social/Human Development

The country is home to five major ethnic groups, including: Hausa (53 percent), Zarma/Songhai (21.2 percent), Tuareg (11 percent), Fulani (6.5 percent), and Kanuri (5.9 percent). Approximately 80 percent of the population is Muslim while the other 20 percent is comprised of Christians and other groups practicing indigenous beliefs.[5] As of 2011, 48.9 percent of the population lives below the national poverty line, according to the World Bank.[6] Niger’s Human Development Index score for 2016 is 0.353, ranking 187 out of 188 countries.[7] More than 300,000 people needed humanitarian assistance in 2016.[8] Hundreds of thousands of refugees and internally displaced persons live in improvised refugee camps.[9] Ongoing political insecurity prevents people in Niger from accessing basic services including food, water, medical care and education.[10]

U.S. Department of State TIP Report Summary (2017)

U.S. Department of State TIP Ranking: Tier 2 Watch List

The Trafficking in Persons Report notes trafficking and trafficking vulnerability in potentially exported supply chains including gold, salt, trona, and gypsum mines, agriculture, stone quarries, and manufacturing.

Migrant and Other Vulnerable Populations

Niger has a negative net migration rate.[11] In 2015, the immigrant population of Niger was 0.95 percent of the total population and inward migration totaled 189,255 people. The largest source country for migrants to Niger is Mali by far. Other notable source countries include Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Benin and Togo.[12] According to the UNHCR, there were approximately 332,164 persons of concern in Niger at the end of 2015. About 37.5 percent of the population are considered refugees and 41.3 percent of the population are considered internally-displaced persons.[13] Most refugees are fleeing conflict in Nigeria and Mali.[14] According to the International Rescue Committee, approximately 200,000 refugees and internally displaced persons escaping violence perpetrated by Boko Haram currently live in informal refugee camps in the Diffa Region.[15]

The main destination countries for migrants from Niger include Nigeria, Benin, Togo, and Côte d’Ivoire.[16]

Exports and Trade

Niger’s top exports in 2016 include uranium, mineral fuels, rice, palm oil and gold.[17]

The top importers of goods from Niger include France, China, the Republic of Korea, Burkina Faso, and Switzerland.[18] 

Niger was the 196th largest supplier of goods to the U.S. in 2013.[19]

Trafficking in Persons Risk Factors Analysis

Legal/Policy Risk Factors

LEVEL OF LEGAL PROTECTION FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES AND WORKERS’ RIGHTS
Freedom of Association

The U.S. Department of State reports that the constitution and the law provide for the freedom of association through the right to form and join unions, bargain collectively, and conduct legal strikes, but has noted that the government has not adopted regulations to enforce these laws.[20] The government enforces applicable laws equally in the public and private sectors, and the authorities respect the freedom of association.[21]

Working Conditions

There is a minimum wage established by the labor code, but only for salaried workers in the formal sector with contractual terms of employment. The lowest minimum wage was CFA 30,047 per month, with an additional CFA 1,000 per child per month. The legal workweek is 40 hours with one rest period of 24 hours minimum. The labor code establishes occupational safety and health standards and by law workers can remove themselves from dangerous situations without jeopardizing their employment. This law applies equally to migrant and foreign workers, but the U.S. Department of State has reported that authorities do not effectively protect employees in such situations.[22] Additionally, the informal sector remains nonunionized and without much regulation.[23]

Discrimination

The constitution provides for equal access to employment for all citizens, and the labor code prohibits discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, political opinion, national origin, or citizenship, social origin, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, language, HIV-status, sickle cell anemia, or other communicable disease. However, the U.S. Department of State has reported that the government does not effectively enforce the law and that discrimination occurs with respect to sex and disability.[24]

Forced Labor

The government has not fully met the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking according to the U.S. Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report, but is making significant efforts to do so. Penalties and enforcement mechanisms are reportedly inadequate.[25]

Child Labor

Law prohibits the employment of children under the age of 12 and the employment of children under the age of 14 except as authorized by decree. Children aged 12 or 13 may work for a maximum of two hours per day outside of school hours with authorization if it does not impede their schooling. Children aged 14 to 17 may work a maximum of 4.5 hours per day. However, laws addressing the worst forms of child labor do not explicitly prohibit forced or compulsory labor by children, particularly in agriculture, and the U.S. Department of State has noted that the government does not effectively enforce child labor laws.[26] The U.S. Department of State report in 2016 that child labor is prevalent, and approximately 50 percent of children between aged five and 17 engage in labor.[27] Education is compulsory for children from 4 to 16 years of age.[28]

Civil Society Organizations

The U.S. Department of State has reported that the public media does not cover the statements or activities of civil society organizations that are critical of the government.[29] Amnesty International reports some level of repression of freedom of expression via prosecutions of journalists.[30]

Immigration Policies Limiting the Employment Options or Movement of Migrants

The law provides for the freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, and the U.S. Department of State has noted that the government generally respects these rights.[31]

Over 1,000 Nigerian refugees, at least some of whom were, according to Amnesty International, themselves fleeing Boko Haram, were detained and accused of terrorism under Niger’s anti-terror law. Many were detained for long periods before their trials and some experienced torture at the hands of security forces. In June of 2016, the government announced a plan to extradite all adult Nigerian detainees.[32]

Ratification of ILO Conventions Related to Human Trafficking or Rights of Workers and Migrants

[33]

Political Risk Factors

POLITICAL INSTABILITY OR CONFLICT

Niger scors 98.4 on the Fragile States Index in 2016 and has been placed in the “Alert” category as the nineteenth most fragile state. The score rose 0.6 points from 2015. Demographic pressures and uneven economic development are the most pressing issues according to the index.[34] The U.S. Department of State reports that the regional fight against the terrorist group Boko Haram continues, and has reportedly resulted in the killing of many civilians. There have been reports of abductions, torture, and use of child soldiers by Boko Haram. Child soldiers reportedly attacked villages and medical facilities, stealing supplies and displacing civilians.[35] 

 
LEVEL OF CRIME AND VIOLENCE

According to the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), a division of the U.S. Department of State, there is a risk of non-violent crimes like theft in the major cities and some violent crimes committed after dark. As Niger has lengthy and porous borders, it has been used as a transit route for the smuggling of weapons, illegal drugs, fuel, vehicles, humans, and cigarettes. The U.S. Department of State reports that there has been a rise in smuggling activity since the war in Libya in 2011, and this has led to an increase in clashes between smugglers and security forces.[36]

 
STATE PERSECUTION

The U.S. Department of State reports that members of the Buduma and Bororo Fulani ethnic groups faced both governmental and societal discrimination because of the perception that they supported and/or facilitated the activities of Boko Haram. The conflict between Boko Haram and the Nigerian military triggered the flow of persons into Niger, and it is estimated that the Diffa Region hosted more than 300,000 displaced persons due to the conflict. The government of Niger has provided assistance to refugees and has an established system to provide protection to refugees and IDPs. The law provides for the freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, and the U.S. Department of State has reported that the government has respected most of these rights. However, the government or its agents have been reported to commit arbitrary or unlawful killings because of suspicions that individuals were members of Boko Haram, according to the U.S. Department of State.[37]

 
LEVEL OF CORRUPTION

The Transparency International Corruption Perception Index scores Niger as 35 out of 100, where a 0 signals “Highly Corrupt” and a 100 signals “Very Clean.” Niger ranks 101 out of 176 on the index, and the score is up one point from the 2015 score.[38] The World Bank Worldwide Governance Indicators ranks Niger 33 out of 100 on the “Control of Corruption” scale, where a 0 is the lowest rank and 100 is the highest.[39] The U.S. Department of State reports that while the law establishes criminal penalties for corruption by officials, the government has not implemented this law effectively and civil servants have been found demanding bribes for public services.[40]

Socio-Economic Risk Factors

LEVEL OF NATIONAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

The UN Human Development Index places Niger in the low human development category, ranking it 187 out of 188 countries with a score of 0.353 in 2015. Niger ranks lower than all of its neighbors on the index.[41] The World Bank classifies Niger in the low income level and reports that the GDP fell from USD 8.245 billion in 2014 to USD 7.143 billion in 2015.[42]

LEVEL AND EXTENT OF POVERTY

The percentage of population living below the national poverty line was 48.9 percent in 2011 according to the World Bank.[43] The inequality-adjusted Human Development Index value for Niger is 0.253, and the country ranks third lowest of nations with an inequality-adjusted HDI.[44] According to the UNDP Human Development Reports Multidimensional Poverty Index, 89.8 percent of the population was living in multidimensional poverty as of 2012. On the index, Niger has a value of 0.584.[45] The U.S. Department of State reports that the government has designated CFA 1,000 as the poverty income level and reported in 2011 that 48.2 percent of citizens lived below that level.[46]

DEGREE OF GENDER INEQUALITY

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Human Development Report Gender Inequality Index value for Niger is 0.695, ranking it 157 out of 159 countries.[47] The Social Institutions and Gender Index reports that the Nigerien Constitution grants equal rights to all genders, and Niger has ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women. However, there is a lack of effective hierarchy for statutory, customary, and religious law, all of which play a role in daily lives of the population. Inheritance is governed by customary and/or Sharia law, which stipulates that women’s share of any inheritance is smaller than the men’s share. Women have limited rights to ownership or possession of both land and non-land assets. It is difficult for women to access credit and married women may not open a bank account the same way that men can.[48]

Approximately 3.6 percent of the female population has at least some secondary education compared to 8.4 percent of the male population. The percentage of the female population that is part of the work force was 40.2 percent compared to 89.4 percent of the male population.[49]

LANDLESSNESS AND DISPOSSESSION

The U.S. Department of State reports that over 180,000 individuals have fled violence instigated by Boko Haram in parts of the Diffa region and remained IDPs in other parts of the region. Intercommunal conflict between farmers and herders over scarce resources occurred in the northern Tillabery region that resulted in displacement. This competition was spurred by desertification and population growth.[50]

ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS

Niger is prone to droughts, floods, and locust infestations. As the agricultural sector plays an important role in the economy, these threaten the economy and the food supply within Niger.[51]

Documented Trafficking and Trafficking Risk in Key Commodity Supply Chains

Gold

GOLD OVERVIEW

At the end of 2014, it was reported that Niger had 69 artisanal mines and 24 artisanal sites. The informal mining sector has a wide range of environmental impacts, including deforestation, air and soil pollution, and water contamination. The formal mining sector provides approximately 5,000 jobs, equaling about 10 percent of the employment in the informal mining sector.[52]

 
DOCUMENTED TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS RISK FACTORS IN GOLD

The U.S. Department of State notes trafficking in gold mining.[53] Artisanal mining sites use potassium cyanide in the refining process, which is highly toxic.[54]

Related Resources

Resources for Understanding Legal and Policy-Related Risk Factors

Endnotes

[1] Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). World Factbook – Niger. 2017. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ng.html

[2] World Bank. Country Overview, Niger. 2017. http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/niger/overview

[3] World Bank. Country Data, Niger. 2017. http://data.worldbank.org/country/niger

[4] World Bank. Country Overview, Niger. 2017. http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/niger/overview

[5] Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). World Factbook. 2017. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ng.html

[6] World Bank. Country Data, Niger. 2017. http://data.worldbank.org/country/niger

[7] United Nations Development Programme. Human Development Index. 2016. http://hdr.undp.org/en/composite/HDI

[8] Amnesty International. Country Report: Niger. https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/africa/niger/report-niger/

[9] International Rescue Committee. The Current Crisis in Niger. https://www.rescue.org/country/niger#what-caused-the-current-crisis-in-niger

[10] Amnesty International. Country Report: Niger. https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/africa/niger/report-niger/

[11] World Bank. Net migration. 2012. http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SM.POP.NETM?locations=NE

[12] International Organization for Migration (IOM). Global Migration Flows. 2016. https://www.iom.int/world-migration

[13] United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. UNHCR Statistics. 2015. http://popstats.unhcr.org/en/overview

[14] International Rescue Committee. The Current Crisis in Niger. https://www.rescue.org/country/niger#what-caused-the-current-crisis-in-niger

[15] International Rescue Committee. The Current Crisis in Niger. https://www.rescue.org/country/niger#what-caused-the-current-crisis-in-niger

[16] International Organization for Migration (IOM). Global Migration Flows. 2016. https://www.iom.int/world-migration

[17] International Trade Centre. Trade Map. www.trademap.org.

[18] International Trade Centre. Trade Map. www.trademap.org.

[19] Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Niger. https://ustr.gov/countries-regions/africa/west-africa/niger

[20] U.S. Department of State. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016, Niger. 2016. http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm?year=2016&dlid=265286

[21] U.S. Department of State. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016, Niger. 2016. http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm?year=2016&dlid=265286

[22] U.S. Department of State. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016, Niger. 2016. http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm?year=2016&dlid=265286

[23] U.S. Department of State. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016, Niger. 2016. http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm?year=2016&dlid=265286

[24] U.S. Department of State. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016, Niger. 2016. http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm?year=2016&dlid=265286

[25] U.S. Department of State. Trafficking in Persons Report. Nigeria. 2016. https://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/countries/2016/258833.htm

[26] U.S. Department of State. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016, Niger. 2016. http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm?year=2016&dlid=265286

[27] U.S. Department of State. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016, Niger. 2016. http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm?year=2016&dlid=265286

[28] Right to Education project. National law and policies on minimum ages – Niger. 2008. http://r2e.gn.apc.org/country-node/479/country-minimum

[29] U.S. Department of State. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016, Niger. 2016. http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm?year=2016&dlid=265286

[30] Amnesty International. Country Report: Niger. https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/africa/niger/report-niger/

[31] U.S. Department of State. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016, Niger. 2016. http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm?year=2016&dlid=265286

[32] Amnesty International. Country Report: Niger. https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/africa/niger/report-niger/

[33] International Labour Organization. Ratifications for Niger. http://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=1000:11200:0::NO:11200:P11200_COUNTRY_ID:103254

[34] Fund for Peace. Country Data and Trends. 2016. http://fsi.fundforpeace.org/2016-niger

[35] U.S. Department of State. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016, Niger. 2016. http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm?year=2016&dlid=265286

[36] Overseas Security Advisory Council, U.S. Department of State. Niger 2017 Crime & Safety Report. 2017. https://www.osac.gov/pages/ContentReportDetails.aspx?cid=21622

[37] U.S. Department of State. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016, Niger. 2016. http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm?year=2016&dlid=265286

[38] Transparency International. Corruption Perceptions Index, 2016. 2016. http://www.transparency.org/news/feature/corruption_perceptions_index_2016

[39] World Bank. Worldwide Governance Indicators. 2015. http://info.worldbank.org/governance/wgi/index.aspx#reports

[40] U.S. Department of State. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016, Niger. 2016. http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm?year=2016&dlid=265286

[41] United Nations Development Programme. Human Development Reports. 2016. http://hdr.undp.org/en/composite/HDI

[42] World Bank. Country Data, Niger. 2015. http://data.worldbank.org/country/niger

[43] World Bank. Country Data, Niger. 2011. http://data.worldbank.org/country/niger

[44] United Nations Development Programme. Inequality-Adjusted Human Development Index. 2015. http://hdr.undp.org/en/composite/IHDI

[45] United Nations Development Programme. Human Development Index, Multidimensional Poverty Index. 2012. http://hdr.undp.org/en/composite/MPI

[46] U.S. Department of State. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016, Niger. 2016. http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm?year=2016&dlid=265286

[47] United Nations Development Programme. Human Development Index, Gender Inequality Index. 2015. http://hdr.undp.org/en/composite/GII

[48] Social Institutions and Gender Index. Niger. 2014. http://www.genderindex.org/country/niger

[49] United Nations Development Programme. Human Development Index, Gender Inequality Index. 2015. http://hdr.undp.org/en/composite/GII

[50] U.S. Department of State. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016, Niger. 2016. http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm?year=2016&dlid=265286

[51] World Bank. Country Overview, Niger. 2015. http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/niger/overview

[52] De Potter, Fons; Debroey, Karin. “Who Profits from Gold Mining in Niger?” December 22, 2014.  https://www.equaltimes.org/who-profits-from-gold-mining-in

[53] U.S. Department of State. Trafficking in Persons Report. Niger. 2016. https://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/countries/2016/258833.htm

[54] De Potter, Fons; Debroey, Karin. “Who Profits from Gold Mining in Niger?” December 22, 2014.  https://www.equaltimes.org/who-profits-from-gold-mining-in