Rampant corruption of security forces in northern Niger, and poverty poses obstacle to cracking down on a flood illegal migrants headed to Europe. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
Most of them have already traveled thousands of miles to get to Niger And they have thousands more to go. Alarmed by the flood of migrants, European governments are looking to Niger for action. Last month Niger passed a tough anti-migrant smuggling law amid hopes it will succeed where others before it failed. But when an undercover government investigator tried confronting security forces extracting bribes from African migrants, he was beaten and arrested by angry police. A confidential report from his mission, concluded that corruption was so entrenched in the vast northern region of Niger that tackling illegal migration required replacing all military and police officials. Inspectors found that bribes paid by migrants were also essential to keep security forces functioning. (SOUNDBITE)(French) 34-YEAR-OLD MIDDLE MAN, DAVID OUSSENI, SAYING: "Nowadays, paying is a must. The police search you for money sometimes, they search passengers to take their money." Niger and its foreign partners recognize that if they are to stem the deadly trade, both migrants and smugglers need economic alternatives-- with few signs yet of any new prospects.