Togo
Head of state
Faure Gnassingbé
Head of government
Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo
Death penalty
abolitionist for all crimes
Population
6.2 million
Life expectancy
57.1 years
Under-5 mortality
97.5 per 1,000
Adult literacy
56.9 per cent

Peaceful demonstrations by political parties and students were dispersed by security authorities using excessive force, including tear gas and rubber bullets. Some 30 political and military officials were sentenced to prison terms on the basis of confessions extracted under torture. The Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) held hearings from September to November; impunity remained the rule among the security forces, who attempted to disrupt the process.

Background

In March a draft law, stipulating that prior notification must be given before any public demonstration, sparked political criticism and public protest marches. The law was adopted in May.

In October, the Court of Justice of ECOWAS criticized the government’s handling of the case against nine parliamentarians with the opposition party National Alliance for Change (ANC) who had been dismissed from the National Assembly. The Court asked the government to “rectify this prejudice” and to give them financial compensation. Although the authorities agreed to pay compensation, by the end of the year they were still refusing to reintegrate the nine men into the National Assembly.

In October, Togo accepted some of the recommendations made by the Universal Periodic Review Working Group, including guaranteeing the independence and impartiality of the TJRC. The government refused to accept recommendations regarding the ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

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Excessive use of force

The security forces repeatedly dispersed demonstrators with tear gas and used excessive force against several protest marches organized by political parties and students.

  • In March, demonstrators protesting against the draft law limiting freedom of assembly were dispersed by security forces using tear gas. Jean-Pierre Fabre, President of the ANC, was put under house arrest on several occasions to prevent him from joining protest marches.
  • In June, the security forces used force against the student organization Mouvement pour l’épanouissement des étudiants togolais (Movement for the development of Togolese students, MEET), who were demanding improvements to the university system. The clashes occurred after seven students, including MEET leader Abou Seydou, were arrested and ill-treated. Several students were wounded by rubber bullets, some severely.
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Torture and other ill-treatment

Torture in pre-trial detention was widespread in order to extract confessions or implicate defendants.

  • In March, Sow Bertin Agba was arrested for fraud and tortured while held in handcuffs for five days in a garage at the National Intelligence Agency premises. He suffered a fractured arm and wounds all over his body. By the end of the year, he was still detained without trial at the civil prison in Tsévié.
  • In September, 33 people accused of plotting against the State, including Kpatcha Gnassingbé, half-brother of the President, were sentenced to prison terms of up to 20 years by the Supreme Court. Immediately after the trial, the Minister of Justice asked the National Commission on Human Rights to investigate the torture allegations. It had not published its conclusions by the end of the year.
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Impunity

The TJRC, set up to shed light on human rights violations committed between 1958 and 2005, held hearings from September to November. A total of 508 people were heard, selected from some 20,000 statements received. The initial hearings, in the capital Lomé and other towns, dealt primarily with the 1991 attack on the Primature (Prime Minister’s office) and some of the human rights violations committed during the 2005 presidential elections. One of the sessions in September was disrupted by the security forces in a clear attempt to intimidate members of the Commission and witnesses.

No progress was made in the investigation of 72 complaints lodged by victims of political repression in 2005.

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