Togo: Security forces beat, fire tear gas at peaceful protesters amid Internet shut down
Security forces in Togo have beaten and fired tear gas at largely peaceful protesters late last night. Internet services have been blocked by the authorities since 6 September. Some journalists have been prevented from doing their work. In response, Francois Patuel, Amnesty International’s West Africa Researcher said:
Shutting down Internet services is an unjustified attack on Internet freedom and freedom of expression in Togo. This shows how far the authorities are willing to go to muzzle anti-government criticism.
“The severe reaction of the security forces against largely peaceful protesters is a clear violation of the freedom of peaceful assembly. Shutting down Internet services is an unjustified attack on Internet freedom and freedom of expression in Togo. This shows how far the authorities are willing to go to muzzle anti-government criticism.
“The authorities must refrain from using unnecessary or excessive force, and ensure that journalists are able to carry out their work without fear, free from intimidation and harassment.”
Late yesterday, riot police fired tear gas at largely peaceful protesters gathering in Lomé the capital, and the cities of Sokodé, Bafilo and Mango. Some were beaten when the protest were still peaceful. They then became violent when they were dispersed by security forces who fired tear gas at them.
The protests were scheduled for 6 and 7 September, demanding the return of the country’s 1992 constitution, which includes presidential term limits. The internet has been blocked by the authorities since 6 September. The opposition Pan African National Party (PNP) leader told Amnesty International that his house is surrounded this morning by security forces.
At least two people were killed and several injured by security forces during last month‘s protests. 28 people have been sentenced to terms of up to 60 months in prison.
Amnesty International has called on security forces to protect the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and refrain from unnecessary and excessive use of force against protesters.