Togo, ruled by the same family since 1967, has institutionalized a tradition of repression of civic space: arbitrary arrests and imprisonment of human rights defenders, pro-democracy activists, journalists and political opponents, marred by deaths in custody or upon release from detention, bans on demonstrations as well as private meetings, degradation of freedom of expression and of the press with abusive suspensions of newspapers... A tradition that, after a slight relaxation in the early 2010s with the decriminalization of press offenses, became the norm again from August 2017 with the popular mobilization for a return to the original 1992 Constitution (whose Article 59 limited the number of presidential terms to two) and the right to vote for the diaspora.
Between August 2017 and October 2022, at least 546 people were arrested for their opinions, many of whom were tortured in detention. Eleven people died as a result of these practices. There were also 18 killings by the defense and security forces, 10 newspapers suspended or simply banned for criticizing the government, and 29 demonstrations, 10 of which were held in private places, were banned by the authorities.
This report begins with an analysis of the legal texts of the State of Togo in the area of human rights, highlighting the liberticidal provisions currently in force in Togo. It then compiles the various cases of arrests, demonstration and assembly bans, and internet blackouts to demonstrate their recurrence and the dynamics of shrinking civic space at work since 2017 in Togo. The report concludes with an emphasis on poor prison conditions, the culture of torture, and finally the impunity enjoyed by law enforcement officials even when they commit homicides.
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Some key figures from the report: