Niger's military junta has overturned an anti-immigration law that criminalizes the smuggling of migrants through the country. In a statement, the Niamey junta announced the repeal of the law, underlining that the leader of the junta, General Abdourahamane Tchiani, signed a revocation decree. The law was introduced in 2015 with EU support to help reduce the flow of West Africans to Europe and was widely opposed by desert dwellers whose economies depended on the traffic.
There are fears that trafficking gangs may see the repeal of the law as an opportunity to transport people to Libya or Algeria and then onward to Europe. Analysts say the move indicates the junta is asserting its authority in the face of international pressure. Niger received around $1,9 billion in migration-related support between 2015 and 2022. It is not yet clear how the EU will respond to what is now seen as a major blow to its strategy for managing migration flows from Africa.