Niger: EU concerned about consequences of repeal of migrant smuggling law

The European Union says it is "very concerned" following Niger's repeal of the law on migrant smuggling. The European Commissioner for Home Affairs reacted on Tuesday to the order of the CNSP junta putting an end to the law which, since 2015, had criminalised the illegal entry and exit of migrants on Nigerien territory.

Migrants leaving the city of Agadez for Libya in June 2018. © Jerome Delay / AP

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I deeply regret this decision Sweden's Ylva Johansson said on Tuesday. The European Commissioner for Home Affairs believes that with the repeal of the 2015 law, "there is a big risk that it will cause more deaths in the desert". Indeed, this could create a draw for sub-Saharan migrants who will try to reach the shores of the Old Continent. For the European Union, this law had made it possible to significantly reduce the number of deaths on the migratory route, but also to reduce the number of illegal arrivals on its soil.


The number of people losing their lives in the desert has decreased significantly, the European Commissioner said. I was in Niger, I went to Agadez and I saw all the search and rescue efforts that they are doing in the desert to make sure that people don't die there and to prevent these smuggling and endangering people's lives. I am very concerned about the current situation.


Listen alsoAfrica press review – Niger turns its back on its anti-immigration law

A law "passed under the influence of certain foreign powers


But for the Nigerien government, this law, which in fact made the Sahel a new European border, was "voted under the influence of certain foreign powers" by making certain activities "by nature regular" illegal. This constituted, for Niamey, "a flagrant contradiction with its community rules and the interests of the citizens of Niger".

With this decision, the CNSP junta re-established a real economy based on migration, which had been particularly established in the stopover city of Agadez and which had largely contributed to its development.

But it's hard not to see this as a reaction to the decision by Brussels, whose European Parliament demanded the release of President Mohamed Bazoum last week. According to European Commissioner Ylva Johansson, the only programme that has not been interrupted for the European Union is cooperation within the framework of the "United Nations regime for the evacuation of refugees from Libya with a view to their resettlement in Niger", reports our correspondent in Brussels, Pierre Bénazet.

Read alsoMigration reform: the Twenty-Seven agree on a key text

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