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This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

Togo: Recent Documents

Togo: Recent Documents
Date distributed (ymd): 990524
Document reposted by APIC

+++++++++++++++++++++Document Profile+++++++++++++++++++++

Region: West Africa
Issue Areas: +political/rights+
Summary Contents:
This posting contains two recent documents concerning the human rights situation in Togo, one from Amnesty International and the other from The Observatory, a joint project of the International Federation for the Defense of Human Rights and the World Organization against Torture. The full text of the Amnesty International report referred to (AFR 57/01/99) can be found at
www.amnesty.org/ailib/aipub/1999/AFR/15700199.htm or www.amnesty.it/ailib/aipub/1999/AFR/15700199.htm

+++++++++++++++++end profile++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

***Africa Policy Web Site Announcement***

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Amnesty International

Togo: Rule of terror in a climate of impunity

5 May 1999

[The copyright for this material rests with Amnesty International. You may repost this message provided the main text is not significantly altered and provided that the header crediting Amnesty International is included.

If you are a UK based journalist and require further information please call the AIUK Press Office on 0171 814 6248 or e-mail press@amnesty.org.uk

If you are reading this page within the UK and require further information or more information about AIUK contact the AIUK Information Office on 0171 814 6200 or e-mail info@amnesty.org.uk

If you are reading this page outside of the UK and require further information about Amnesty, please contact your local section (http://www.amnesty.org/aisect/index.html) or the International Secretariat (http://www.amnesty.org) of Amnesty International.

Other news on Africa from Amnesty can be found at: http://www.amnesty.org.uk/news/press/africa.shtml]

A first step towards overturning the rule of terror in Togo will be to end the current climate of total impunity for murder, torture and other human rights violations, Amnesty International said today.

In a new report, the human rights organisation describes how Togolese police and security forces have killed and "disappeared" people without being held accountable. Arbitrary detentions, torture and ill-treatment -- sometimes resulting in deaths -- and extremely harsh prison conditions also form part of this disturbing pattern of organized repression which has developed over many years.

"Togo's human rights crisis can only begin to be resolved if the authorities start bringing those who kill and torture to justice," Amnesty International said. "The international community must also share the blame for what is happening in Togo and stop supplying the country with arms and other military assistance when there is a clear danger that they are contributing to human rights violations."

The statement came as Amnesty International's Secretary General, Pierre Sane, was preparing for a visit to Togo on 20-21 May, during which he hopes to engage in positive dialogue about human rights with President Gnassingbe Eyadema, who has governed the country since 1967. [Update: PANA reports that Sane was refused admission to Togo.]

Some democratic changes were put in place in Togo in the early 1990s as a new constitution, approved in a referendum in 1992, opened the way to political pluralism and a degree of freedom of expression. However, it has so far failed to prevent serious human rights violations from continuing.

Repression has been especially harsh around the last two elections. After the results were announced in the June 1998 presidential election, hundreds of people, including members of the military, were killed by the security forces. Corpses were washed up on the beaches of Togo and neighbouring Benin for days afterwards.

The hundreds of political killings and dozens of "disappearances" in recent years in Togo are largely attributable to members of the Forces Armees Togolaises (FAT), Togolese Armed Forces, and the gendarmerie nationale, paramilitary police force. The perpetrators have rarely -- if ever -- been brought to justice.

Arbitrary detention also continues unabated. Scores of civilians and military personnel have been detained for months, even years, without charge or trial. The majority of those arrested over the past four years have been detained solely on suspicion of being "rebels" or members of an opposition party.

During the last decade the Togolese security forces have systematically tortured suspects. One former detainee, an opposition party member, told Amnesty International:

"I was received at the gendarmerie headquarters by blows from cables, rifle butts and batons all over my body. They asked me questions about my party and accused me of being an arms trafficker. Lieutenant S ... then ordered me to be put on a table surrounded by soldiers. They struck me with batons and belt buckles ... at a certain moment I fell down and had difficulty getting up again. No one helped me to get up; they continued to beat me to make me get up again on the table on my own ... the next day at four o'clock in the morning the police served me a "strong coffee" (being woken up by beating with batons)."

Throughout the country, and particularly in the civil prison and the gendarmerie headquarters in Lome, the capital, detention conditions are very severe and far from meeting international standards. Medical care and food supplies are completely inadequate and many detainees suffer from illnesses such as tuberculosis, for which they receive no medical treatment.

It is essential to challenge the part played by the army, and in particular its hierarchy, in human rights violations. However, it is no less important to reflect on the role played by those foreign governments which provide the Togolese authorities with arms and other military assistance, thereby facilitating human rights violations.

Togo continues to benefit from significant military aid from France, the former colonial power, particularly through an agreement on defence and on technical military assistance by which France may be called upon to intervene at any time in response to external invasion. The agreement reportedly also allows for French intervention in the event of internal unrest in Togo. It has never been made public. South Africa and Chad have also provided Togo with military, security and police equipment in the past.

In November and December 1998, an Amnesty International delegation discussed the seriousness of Togo's human rights situation with senior officials, including the Ministers of Justice, the Interior and Defence. All expressed their commitment to protecting and promoting human rights. However, they refused to discuss their government's human rights policies in detail. Despite extensive evidence of continuing human rights violations, the authorities denied most of the organisation's allegations and accused it of raking up the past.

"The situation in Togo demands concrete and immediate action," Amnesty International said. "A country which has a constitution that guarantees human rights, and which has ratified almost the full panoply of international human rights treaties, must honour its commitments at the national as well as the international level."

Amnesty International is calling on all members of the international community, and primarily France, to stop the transfer to Togo of equipment which could be used to violate human rights. The French government should also make all military aid conditional on a human rights training programme. Reports of human rights violations committed by the security forces should be investigated promptly and thoroughly and those responsible brought to justice.


URGENT APPEAL- THE OBSERVATORY

TGO 001 / 0599 / OBS 031
Arrests/ detention
Togo

17 May 1999

Kindly inform the Observatory of any action undertaken quoting the code number of the present appeal.

[Note: After May 1999, please check with the Observatory (observatoire@iprolink.ch) for updates before sending an appeal based on this information.]

The Observatory, an FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

To contact the Observatory, call the Emergency Line: Fax : 33 (0) 1 40 39 22 42 Tel.: FIDH 33 (0) 1 48 05 82 46 OMCT : + 41 22 733 31 40 E-mail: observatoire@iprolink.ch

The World Organisation Against Torture, Case Postale 119 37-39 Rue de Vermont CH1211 Geneva 20 CIC Switzerland. Fax 4122 733 1051; Ph 4122 733 3140. E-mail: omct@iprolink.ch; Web: http://www.omct.org/

OMCT - The World Organisation Against Torture is the Worlds largest network of human rights organisations fighting against all forms of torture, cruel inhuman or degrading treatment, forced disappearances summary execution or other more subtle forms of violent repression. OMCT has consultative status with the UN, The ILO and the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the FIDH and the OMCT, requests your URGENT intervention in the following situation in Togo.

Brief description of the situation

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders has been informed by the Togo Human Rights League, member of the FIDH, of the arrest on 3 May, 1999 of Mr. Nestor Tengue, Mr. Francois Gayibor and Mr. Brice Santanna, members of the Togo Association for the Defence and Promotion of Human Rights (ATDPDH) and the arrest on 14 May, 1999 of Mr. and Mrs. Antoine Koffi Nadjombe, members of the Togo section of Amnesty International.

According to the information received, Mr. Tengue, Mr. Gayibor and Mr. Santanna are currently being detained in the Lome prison, accused of having provided Amnesty International with information on human rights violations in Togo. The most recent report on Togo by Amnesty International documents the appearance of bodies on the beaches of Togo and Benin for at least four days, during and after the presidential elections of June 1998. The people arrested deny having provided such information. The Amnesty report was given to the Togo authorities days before its official appearance on 5 May, 1999 and was dismissed as "a tissue of lies".

Mr. Antoine Koffi Nadjombe, Philosophy professor at the protestant college of Lome, has also been arrested for his role as a member of Togo's Amnesty International. He is currently in police custody in the National Criminal Investigation Department in the capital Lome. His wife was released on 17 May, 1999. Their arrest took place following a search of their home.

The Observatory considers these arrests and detentions to be arbitrary and constitute a serious obstacle to the freedom of action of Human Rights defenders in Togo.

Action Requested:

Please write to the authorities urging that they:

i take appropriate measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Nestor Tengue, Mr. François Gayibor, Mr. Brice Santanna and Mr. Antoine Koffi Nadjombe;

ii immediately release the above mentioned persons in the absence of the valid charges;

iii adopt the necessary measures to ensure that human rights organisations and their members, notably Mr. Nestor Tengue, François Gayibor, Brice Santanna and Antoine Koffi Nadjombe are allowed to carry out their work freely ;

iv. ensure the implementation of the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9 1998 (Declaration concerning the rights and responsibilities of individuals, groups and institutions to promote and protect universally recognised human rights and fundamental liberties ) in particular its Article 1 which provides that "Every person has the right, individually or collectively, to promote the protection and fulfilment of human rights and fundamental liberties at the national and international level." and article 6b which states "Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge or all human rights and fundamental freedoms;"

v. guarantee the effective respect of fundamental human rights and freedoms in accordance with the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the universal and regional Pacts and Covenants ratified by Togo.

Addresses:

Prime Minister. Fax : (228) 21-37-53;
Minister with responsibility for Democracy and the Rule of Law (Human Rights); fax: (228) 21 19 73.

Geneva - Paris, 17th May 1999


This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC). APIC's primary objective is to widen the policy debate in the United States around African issues and the U.S. role in Africa, by concentrating on providing accessible policy-relevant information and analysis usable by a wide range of groups and individuals.

URL for this file: http://www.africafocus.org/docs99/togo9905.php