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TITLE: TOGO HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993 DATE: JANUARY 31, 1994 AUTHOR: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE TOGO During 1993 President Gnassingbe Eyadema continued to consolidate effective state power. He arbitrarily declared the termination as of December 31, 1992, of the transitional government including the legislative High Council of the Republic (HCR), which had been appointed by the National Conference in 1991. In January he reappointed as Prime Minister Joseph Kokou Koffigoh, whose Government, though nominally independent, cooperated closely with the President throughout the year and regularly took policy positions consistent with Eyadema's views. On August 25, Eyadena won reelection as President in an electoral process marred by serious irregularities and by the nonparticipation of all major opposition candidates and a majority of Togo's registered voters. The opposition, known as the Collective for Democratic Opposition (COD II), and the HCR rejected the President's moves, including installation of the Koffigoh Government, as unconstitutional. Toward year's end, the Government began preparations for legislative elections to be held in early 1994. The Government agreed to meet some opposition demands concerning technical election preparations but did not accede to broader political demands. Some opposition parties declared their intention to boycott the polls on the basis that genuinely free elections were not possible under prevailing circumstances, while others planned to participate provided that conditions they considered necessary were met. The President's power rests on his control of the security forces, especially the army which is largely composed of officers (90 percent) and soldiers (70 percent) from the President's northern ethnic group. The Togolese security forces, numbering approximately 13,000, consist primarily of the army, navy, air force, national police (Surete), and gendarmerie. The Interior Minister is nominally responsible for the national police, whose director reports in reality to the President. The Defense Minister nominally supervises the other Togolese security forces but, in fact, they report through the General Staff to President Eyadema. Security forces committed various human rights abuses. The call for the creation of a politically neutral special security force with the task of providing election security was one of the key demands cited by the opposition and independent labor unions in launching the November 1992-July 1993 general strike, along with a demand for a declaration of neutrality by the army and a reshuffling of the Cabinet of Ministers to include more opposition representatives. About 80 percent of its 3.4 million people are engaged in subsistence agriculture, but the country also has an active commercial sector. Togo has an annual per capita gross domestic product of less than $500. The 8-month general strike severely damaged both the public and private sectors of the economy. Declining prices for Togo's principal exports (phosphates, coffee, cocoa, and cotton) continued to affect the economy adversely. The human rights situation deteriorated significantly in 1993, with the President turning back the clock on democratic progress and with the security forces engaging in massive abuses, including political killings and intimidation of political opponents and the press. During the year, several hundred thousand people became displaced or temporarily fled the country for safety, and the political opposition became increasingly divided, with some of its partisans committing serious abuses. The President frequently benefited from the pattern of army violence, which intimidated the opposition and strengthened his hold on power. RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from: a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing Government security forces and, to a lesser extent, opposition partisans were responsible for political and extrajudicial killings. On January 25 and 30, members of the security forces committed a series of extrajudicial killings. In the January 25 incident in Lome, the forces fired on crowds of unarmed opposition demonstrators, numbering in the thousands, killing at least 19 and wounding many more, according to credible human rights sources. Between January 26 and 30, unknown assailants (but suspected to be opposition militants) killed and wounded at least four members of the security forces in Lome, primarily in opposition-dominated neighborhoods. The military and the Government blamed COD-II for the killings. On January 30, members of the security forces responded to these attacks by firing indiscriminately for a period of 8 hours in various Lome neighborhoods, killing at least 12 people and wounding 31 or more. Security forces ransacked several houses belonging to opposition leaders and looted over 20 stores. Much higher figures of dead and wounded have been cited for the January 25 and 30 attacks, but these could not be confirmed. The January 30 incident provoked the flight of more than 250,000 Togolese to neighboring countries. In addition, roughly 125,000 were displaced within the country as primarily Lome residents fled the capital's violence for the relatively peaceful countryside. On March 25, in an attack credibly attributed to armed Togolese oppositionists, a group of commandos, some based in Ghana, attacked Lome's main military camp, killing General Mawulikplimi Amegi, President Eyadema's personal military Chief of Staff, and severely wounding the Commander of the Presidential Guard, Lt. Col. Gnandi Akpo, who later died of his injuries. The apparent aim of the attack was to kill President Eyadema. In retaliation, over a period of several days security forces summarily executed at least 20 Togolese, mainly soldiers. The victims included Colonel Koffi Tepe, Deputy Chief of Staff of the armed forces, who was later accused publicly by the Defense Minister of involvement in the March 25 attack, two of Tepe's sons, and one nephew. Well over 300 soldiers sought refuge in Ghana and Benin. Victims of the purge appear to have included soldiers suspected of involvement in the March 25 attack, those thought to have opposition or democratic tendencies, and some simply belonging to southern ethnic groups. It was unknown whether these extrajudicial killings referred to above and variously attributed to elements of the Government or the opposition were specifically directed by higher authorities on either side. The Government took no effective action to arrest or punish the perpetrators of any of the January or March attacks. It did issue a warrant for the arrest of opposition political leader Gilchrist Olympio, which was later withdrawn when Olympio officially declared his candidacy for the Presidency. COD-II members denied involvement in the March 25 attack. Political and extrajudicial killings continued throughout the year. For example, on April 15, members of the security forces in Cinkasse, northern Togo, shot to death three anti-Eyadema demonstrators. On election eve, August 24, members of the security forces in Lome shot and killed gas station attendant Joseph Akara and wounded Louis Amedome, Secretary-General in the Mayor's office of Lome, as the two passed close to the Ghana border during the night. Government spokesmen subsequently claimed that the security forces had thus foiled a cross-border incursion by oppositionists, although no evidence of involvement in the purported incursion by Akara or Amedome was presented. On August 26-27, 19 persons died under mysterious circumstances while in police custody. The 19, as well as others, had been arrested in Agbandi and Diguina, near Blitta, central Togo, for their alleged destruction of polling places on election day, August 25. They were beaten at the time of arrest, and, according to credible reports, the 19 died of suffocation because of confinement in a cramped, airless cell. Among those who died were four young boys, aged between 12 and 15. The Government claimed, unconvincingly, that the fatalities were caused by poisoned food brought by the victims' friends and relatives. b. Disappearance No confirmed cases of disappearances were reported during 1993. c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Although detailed information was lacking, there were plausible reports that Togo's security forces tortured detainees on several occasions in 1993, including, according to the defense lawyer, the suspects in a July political bombing case (see Section 1.e.). Torture appears most commonly to take the form of severe beatings. Detainees are frequently beaten by the security forces after arrest. Prison conditions remained very harsh, with serious overcrowding and inadequate food and medical care. The International Committee of the Red Cross and local private organizations are allowed access to prisons for monitoring purposes with advance government permission. d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile Under long-standing Togolese law, persons arrested may be held incommunicado without charge for 48 hours, with an additional 48-hour extension in cases deemed serious or complex. In practice, most detentions conform to this provision. However, prisoners may legally be detained without bail for lengthy periods once they have appeared before a judge. Bail is rarely granted for serious crimes. Access is normally granted to family members and attorneys after the initial 48- or 96-hour detention period. Warrants are issued by a judge or senior police official. Although detainees have the right to be informed of the charges against them, this is not always done in practice. Pretrial investigation is conducted by a special judge who examines the adequacy of the evidence and decides on bail. Nevertheless, the shortage of qualified judicial personnel, especially judges, the lack of training and material resources, and official indifference have produced a backlog of prisoners who are held for long periods of time--in some cases 1 to 3 years--before being brought to trial. Most pretrial detainees are accused of common crimes, but a few are accused of politically motivated crimes. The Government frequently used brief investigative detentions of less than 48 hours, some of which were related to the detainee's opposition political activity. For example, Alessi Wilson, the treasurer of the Togolese Human Rights League, was held by authorities for more than a day due to his investigation of the killing of Isaac Gbikbi. The number of political detainees held by the Government at year's end was unknown, but there were at least several, despite government denials. Ex-Corporal Bikagni Nikabou, who was alleged to have smuggled arms into Togo for use by opposition militants, has been detained without trial since October 1992. His father and brother, who were arrested shortly thereafter, continued to be detained without charges being brought against them. In 1993 there were no persons formally exiled from Togo. However, most opposition leaders left Togo for an extended period for reasons of personal safety following the January 30 random shootings in Lome. Subsequently, most top opposition leaders returned to Togo by July. e. Denial of Fair Public Trial The judicial system, while formally independent of the Government, is subject to intervention and manipulation by the executive branch. This was most evident in the 1993 Supreme Court's decision to exclude Gilchrist Olympio from the presidential race. The judicial system employs both African traditional law and the Napoleonic Code in trying criminal and civil cases. The Supreme Court stands at the apex of the court system. Special courts exist to handle cases related to public security (State Security Court), embezzlement of public funds (Tribunal for Recovery of Public Funds), and violent crimes (Court of Assizes). The State Security Court has not convened in recent years. The court system remained overburdened and understaffed (see Section 1.d.). The result was a serious impediment to the delivery of justice. Trials are open to the public, and judicial procedures are respected. Defendants have the right to counsel from the preliminary investigative phase, may confront witnesses and present evidence, and enjoy a presumption of innocence. Lower court decisions may be appealed to two higher courts. In rural areas, the village chief or Council of Elders may try minor criminal and civil cases. Those who reject the traditional ruling may take their case to the regular court system, which is the starting point for cases in urban areas. There were no clear cases of political prisoners (as distinct from political detainees) in Togo in 1993. On September 10, the Third Chamber of the Lome Criminal Court convicted two members of the opposition political party Democratic Convention of the African People (CDPA), Gerard Akoumey and Stephane Koudossou, of placing a bomb in July at the headquarters of the Action Committee for Renewal (CAR) opposition political party. The bomb caused minor injuries to several persons and modest damage to the CAR headquarters and the adjacent National Human Rights Commission offices. The defendants publicly confessed, but some opposition figures asserted that the charges were trumped up. The lawyers for the defendants withdrew from the case when their arguments alleging that one defendant was underage and that the confessions had been coerced were rejected by the Court. The defendants were convicted nonetheless in the absence of counsel. The trial fell short of a fair trial by internationally accepted standards. f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence In criminal cases, searches of private residences may be authorized by a judge or senior police official. In political and national security cases, the security forces need no prior authorization. Telephone taps and monitoring of correspondence are once again being practiced by the Government after a year's hiatus. The police and Gendarmerie continue to maintain domestic intelligence services. There were massive violations of privacy and home by security forces in the January and March disturbances (see Section 1.a.). Death threats and apparent surveillance by government forces directed against opposition leaders were common. Some prominent figures avoided living at home because of the perceived threat to their safety. The Government has undertaken no investigations of these abuses. Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: a. Freedom of Speech and Press The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and press. These rights, however, were often constrained by threats, harassment, damage to property, and personal violence. Forces sympathetic to the Eyadema Government were most likely responsible for these actions. Approximately 15 independent weekly or biweekly newspapers were published in 1993 and were often critical of the Government. While opposition newspapers are widely available in Lome, some have reported difficulties in distributing their editions in interior regions because of harassment from supporters of President Eyadema. On February 26, unknown assailants severely wounded the editor in chief of the opposition newspaper Ablode, Leopold Ayiti, who also was a spokesman for COD II. So far as is known, no efforts have been made to apprehend the perpetrator of the crime. On April 15, a group of persons, some reported to be in military uniform, entered and ransacked the offices of the Tribune Des Democrates, an opposition newspaper, beating members of the newspaper staff who were present. It is again believed that the perpetrators were members of the security forces, possibly angered by articles strongly critical of the security forces. On May 25, a bomb exploded at the Grandes Editions printing plant, publisher of three opposition newspapers. Two of these newspapers are now printed in Benin. On June 4, a small explosion shattered the windows of the building housing the opposition newspaper Atopani Express. Pro-Eyadema elements, perhaps associated with the security forces, were the likely perpetrators. The 8-month general strike (November 1992-August 1993) had a deleterious effect on the news industry. The strike, triggered by public outrage over soldiers taking members of the HCR hostage in November 1992, had primarily political aims, including calls for a politically neutral security force to provide election security, neutrality by the army, and more opposition representation in the Cabinet. When the strike began, most journals suspended publication as a gesture of support for the strike. As the strike wore on, opposition newspapers began to publish special editions at half the regular price or, in some cases, had to suspend operations for lack of income. Most of the major independent weekly and biweekly newspapers had resumed regular publication by September 1993. The Minister of Communications and Culture convened a meeting in May with representatives of the independent media and cautioned them to be more responsible in their reporting. The Interior Minister in August warned newspapers and tract publishers that they would be prosecuted for publishing defamatory material and that the offending publications would be seized. In the last quarter of 1993, official harassment of the opposition press increased, including through the courts. Government authorities seized several opposition newspapers on the grounds that they lacked complete information in their mastheads as required by law. In November the authorities detained a representative of the opposition newspaper Ibanou Express, Claude Gumzoe, for more than a week when he was found carrying a copy of the Express into the countryside. On November 17, they arrested Katakpaou Toure, the director of the opposition newspaper Lettre de Tchaoudjo, for publishing an alleged defamatory article. Subsequently, a court fined Toure $20,000 (5.5 million CFA francs) and gave him a 12-month prison sentence, with 11 months suspended, for defaming President Eyadema and Defense Minister Bouraima. Toure was released immediately since he had already served more than 1 month in jail awaiting trial. However, three other members of his newspaper's staff, arrested at the same time as Toure, apparently on similar grounds, remained in custody without trial at year's end. In another case, on November 24, the Government tried in absentia in the Lome Criminal Court the director of publication of Ibanou Express, Komlan Ihougan, and a staff writer, Angele Kpanouvi, on charges of defaming President Eyadema. On December 17, the Court sentenced Ihougan and Kpanouvi in absentia to 3 years' imprisonment and fined them $7,275 (2 million CFA francs). Court proceedings in a case stemming from charges of defamation brought in September 1992 against the director of a leading weekly, La Parole, had yet to be concluded. In 1993 the official media (two radio stations, one television station, one daily newspaper) provided coverage that was strongly slanted in favor of President Eyadema and the Government. Except for the 2-week official campaign period just before the August 25 presidential election, which the opposition boycotted, the state media deliberately ignored opposition activities or statements and any international commentary critical of the Government. Two private Ghana-based Togolese radio stations broadcast opposition views in 1993. One, Radio Liberte, broadcast a call to arms to the Togolese people as the March 25 attack on Lome's main military camp was under way. These stations were heavily jammed by the Togolese Government. Two pro-Eyadema private radio stations were established in 1993. The University of Benin, Togo's sole university, was closed during much of the long general strike. Most primary and secondary schools were closed as well. Academic freedom exists in the sense that there is an atmosphere in which ideas and differences of opinion can in principle be debated, but in practice opinions expressed in academic forums tend to be muted because of concerns about potential government harassment. b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association Under the Constitution, Togolese are free to assemble and to organize in associations and political parties. Public demonstrations require advance notification, and on occasion the Government bans demonstrations or modifies their time or place, citing grounds of public safety or interference with public business. In September the Government issued a declaration that henceforth demonstrations would be banned on weekdays in order to avoid interference with work. In practice, security forces repeatedly used excessive force to prevent political assembly and demonstrations and to harass opposition leaders (see Section 1.a.). On January 19, government security forces shot and wounded four persons in a crowd of citizens gathered in a peaceful prodemocracy demonstration to show support for the High Council of the Republic. Political groups from southern Togo hesitated to campaign in the north, the President's home area, where they were sometimes harassed or attacked by supporters of the President. Progovernment figures, including the Prime Minister, were occasionally subject to harassment when visiting opposition strongholds in southern Togo. There are a number of private associations. In order to be officially recognized, private associations must register with the Government, a procedure that is not unduly burdensome. c. Freedom of Religion The Constitution provides for religious freedom, which is enjoyed in practice in terms of religious belief, clergy, and religious publications. Non-Togolese clergy are welcome in Togo. They are free to proselytize and engage in other religious activities. Local religious groups are free to maintain contacts with coreligionists in other countries. There are no restrictions on travel for religious purposes. All official religious observances are ecumenical in nature, and the Government does not favor any specific religion. Membership in a particular religious group confers no advantage or disadvantage in the regime. d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation The right of domestic and foreign travel and emigration, the right to change residence or workplace, and the right to return to the country are generally respected. More than 250,000 Togolese, mainly southerners, fled to neighboring Benin and Ghana, and roughly 125,000 persons moved from their homes to new locations within Togo after the January and March events. By the end of the year, many Togolese, with government encouragement, had returned from Benin and Ghana and from the interior, although others remained in their place of refuge, concerned about unsettled conditions and their personal safety. Refugees are permitted to stay in Togo and are not forced to return to countries in which they fear persecution. An estimated 300 officially recognized refugees reside in Togo. They are mainly Ghanaians and Liberians. Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government In 1993 the people of Togo did not enjoy the right to change their government by peaceful means. President Gnassingbe Eyadema dominated the Government. Declaring that the transition government and its institutions in their present form expired on December 31, 1992, President Eyadema on January 18 unilaterally reappointed Joseph Koffigoh as Prime Minister. The opposition and the High Council of the Republic rejected Koffigoh's appointment as unconstitutional, since the HCR under the interim Constitution has the power to name or change the Prime Minister. This dispute left the Prime Minister and the Government he formed in February in an ambiguous legal status. While nominally independent, the crisis Government headed by Prime Minister Koffigoh was, in fact, subordinate to President Eyadema. The legislative branch, the HCR elected by the National Conference in 1991, did not function in 1993. Most HCR members fled Togo after the January 30 shootings in Lome, making it difficult or impossible to gather a quorum. Presidential elections held on August 25 were seriously flawed. Although the modalities for the elections had been agreed in difficult negotiations between the opposition and the President's representatives, culminating in the Ouagadougou Accords of July 11, the Eyadema regime did not faithfully implement them. One major opposition candidate, Gilchrist Olympio, was excluded from running by the Supreme Court on essentially technical grounds. The other two major opposition candidates, Edem Kodjo and Yaovi Agboyibor, ultimately boycotted the elections and called on their supporters also to boycott the polls, publicly basing their decision on the tardy and flawed electoral preparations. After Kodjo's withdrawal, the four opposition members of the independent National Electoral Commission withdrew from the Commission, as did some opposition supporters on the local electoral commissions and polling staffs. The opposition parties did not provide delegates to observe polling operations as allowed by the Electoral Code and generally failed to demonstrate a commitment to prepare seriously for the elections. In the absence of meaningful opposition, and with only a minority of voters going to the polls, President Eyadema won reelection by default for a 5-year term. There were many irregularities, e.g., inflated and inaccurate electoral lists and double voting. There was also intimidation and sacking of polling places by opposition sympathizers intended to impede the elections. French official observers, as well as private observers, specially selected and invited by the Togolese Government, remained to monitor the elections, while an official German delegation and a joint National Democratic Institute/Carter Center delegation, led by former President Carter, withdrew after all remaining major opposition candidates decided to boycott the elections. The Government allowed some nongovernmental organizations to observe the elections but failed to grant permission to others such as the Inter-African Union for Human Rights. There are no restrictions in law on the participation of women in political activities, and many women do participate through membership in associations and political parties, teachers' unions, and protest groups. However, the total number of women in government is small. Five women are in the 79-member HCR, and 1 woman is a Minister in the Government. Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights Several private human rights groups exist, among them the Togolese Human Rights League and the Association for the Promotion of the Rule of Law. The Togolese Human Rights League prepared some reports in 1993 on the Togolese human rights situation. However, the Eyadema-controlled security forces subjected human rights monitors to threats and harassment. In the wake of the January 30 violence, many human rights monitors left Togo. None was able to function effectively as a result. The National Human Rights Commission (CNDH), established and funded by the Government, was also largely inactive through much of 1993 because of the closure of its office during the extended general strike and the departure abroad of its president because of security forces' threats against him. Citing the long-term absence of the CNDH's president from Togo and the expiration of the terms of office of CNDH members, the Government in October issued a decree designating four members of the CNDH's Executive Committee to take charge of current operations until a new permanent commission was formed, as called for by the Constitution. The president of the CNDH, a strong critic of the Eyadema regime, was excluded from the reconstituted CNDH Executive Committee, and denounced the Government's move as illegal interference with the Commission's affairs. A Ministry of Human Rights also exists, but since September 1992 it has been combined with the Ministry of Social Welfare. This Ministry conducted little activity in 1993, due in part to the general strike which emptied many government offices. The Government received visits from representatives of governmental and nongovernmental international human rights organizations in connection with observation of the August 25 elections. In addition, in December a representative of the Montreal-based International Center for Human Rights and Democratic Development visited Togo. On March 11, the United Nations Human Rights Commission adopted a resolution deploring the repeated acts of violence which resulted in many civilians being killed or wounded and the use of force by the armed forces during peaceful gatherings. Amnesty International published a critical report on Togo's human rights situation on October 5. The Government responded publicly, asserting that Amnesty International favored the opposition and was engaging in a maladroit attempt to destablize the country. Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status The Constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of ethnic group, regional or family origin, sex, religion, social or economic status, or personal political or other convictions. Legal mechanisms exist for redress of discrimination complaints, but they are not very effective. Private sector discrimination on the basis of ethnic group and gender, while not officially sanctioned, is common. Women Notwithstanding constitutional protections and economic and social rights, including maternity leave benefits, set forth in the Family Code adopted in early 1980, in practice women continue to be subjected to discrimination, especially in education, pension benefits, and traditional law. A husband may legally oppose his wife's right to work and assert control over her salary. Employers are often reluctant to hire women, especially to positions of responsibility. Far fewer women than men receive university education, and the number of women graduates from secondary schools is low, which accounts for a low female literacy rate of 31 percent (compared with 56 percent for males). In the urban economic sphere, women dominate both local market activities and commerce with Togo's neighbors, often amassing considerable wealth in the process. However, harsh economic conditions in rural areas, where most of the population lives, leave women with little time for anything other than taxing domestic and agricultural field work. More than civil law, customary or traditional law--which affects the vast majority of women--discriminates against women, e.g., a wife has no rights in the case of divorce, separation, or death of a spouse. Violence against women, including wife beating, occurs in Togo. Mechanisms exist within both the traditional extended family and formal judicial structures for redress, but the police rarely intervene in domestic violence cases. In recent years, instances of trafficking in Togolese women for purposes of prostitution have come to public attention. Local houses of prostitution exist. In addition, Togolese women have been promised jobs in the Middle East or Europe, transported there and then forced into prostitution and sometimes otherwise abused. There are no specific laws dealing with trafficking of this nature, and the Government has made no visible efforts to curtail it. Children The Government devotes few resources to children's welfare. For example, there are only a handful of juvenile courts, and children are often mixed with adult criminals in jails. Orphans or other needy children are aided more by extended families or private organizations than by the State. Tradition often dictates that, especially in financially strapped families, a male child is selected to be educated in preference to a female. In fact, females receive only one-third of the schooling of males, according to a U.N. study. Female genital mutilation (circumcision) is performed at an early age and is practiced by a few ethnic groups in Togo's northern and central regions. While some reports indicate the practice may be gradually diminishing, an expert in the field indicates that as many as 50 percent of the females may have been mutilated. National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities The security forces are dominated by northern ethnic groups, while commerce and the professions tend to be the preserve of southerners. Most political parties are dominated by southerners, except for the pro-Eyadema party. Ethnic rivalries dating from precolonial times have been exacerbated by the civil unrest of recent years and inadequate law enforcement. With the rise in tensions between the north and south of Togo, some residents of minority ethnic groups in those regions have been harassed and attacked by their neighbors belonging to the majority groups and consequently moved back under pressure to their home regions. Southern Togolese were predominant among those who fled from Togo to neighboring Benin and Ghana after the January 30 shooting spree by security force members. People with Disabilities The Constitution obliges the Government to aid disabled persons and shelter them from social injustice, but government assistance is limited in practice. Although disabled persons are not subject to official state discrimination and hold some responsible positions in the Government, disabled persons have no meaningful recourse against private sector discrimination. Some disabled persons find assistance and a livelihood in privately supported workshops, while many others are compelled to beg in the streets. The Government does not mandate accessibility of public or private facilities. Section 6 Worker Rights a. The Right of Association The Constitution gives most workers the right to join unions and the right to strike. Members of the security forces, including firemen and policemen, are not allowed to join unions or strike, and government health care personnel do not have the right to strike. As approximately 80 percent of the population is engaged in subsistence agriculture, the work force in the formal (wage) sector is small, involving some 80,000 to 100,000 workers, of whom 60-70 percent are estimated to be members or supporters of a union. Prior to 1991, the Government effectively limited the right of association by requiring all workers to pay dues to the National Confederation of Togolese Workers (CNTT), which was formerly associated with the ruling party, a practice that had been criticized for years by the International Labor Organization (ILO). This practice gave the CNTT a de facto monopoly on the labor movement, although trade unions could and did exist outside the CNTT. In August 1991, the National Conference suspended the automatic withholding of CNTT dues for all workers, and it froze CNTT's assets. A number of trade unions left the CNTT, some of which then affiliated with two new federations: the Labor Federation of Togolese Workers (CSTT) and the National Union of Independent Syndicates (UNSIT). The CNTT has probably been surpassed in membership by these new unions which, while independent of any political party, cooperated closely with the opposition parties in the recent 8-month general strike. While the CNTT no longer has a formal government affiliation, it remains associated with the Government and the former sole political party, the RPT (Rally of the Togolese People). The Constitution prohibits discrimination against workers' rights for reasons of sex, origin, beliefs, or opinions. There is no specific law prohibiting retribution against strikers. Many civil servants were transferred in the wake of their participation in the general strike, and such transfers were widely denounced by labor leaders and opposition politicians as arbitrary and discriminatory. After the military takeover of the HCR in October 1992, the independent unions belonging to the Independent Collective of Unions (CSI) called for an unlimited general strike, which began on November 16, 1992. It officially ended August 2, 1993, after the signing of the Ouagadougou Accords which called for multiparty presidential elections. Striker demands were primarily political. Because of the long general strike, there was little or no collective bargaining or other labor activity in 1993. The various federations and unions are free to associate with international labor groups. The CNTT and the UNSIT are affiliates of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions. b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively The Labor Code guarantees workers the right to organize and bargain collectively. All formal (wage) sector employees are nominally covered by a collective bargaining agreement. However, true collective bargaining is limited by the Government's role in producing one tripartite bargaining agreement signed by the unions, management, and the Government. This agreement sets wage standards for all formal sector employees. Individual groups in the formal sector can attempt, through collective bargaining, to negotiate a more favorable package, and some do, though it is not a common practice. The CNTT had a role in the bargaining process when it was the de facto monopoly labor federation, but it acted more as a spokesman for labor interests within the Government and ruling party than as an independent labor federation. Since 1991 the CNTT, as well as the newer labor federations, have taken a more active role in independent collective bargaining. The 1974 Labor Code prohibits antiunion discrimination. The Ministry of Labor is charged with resolving labor-related complaints. A law allowing the establishment of export processing zones (EPZ's) was enacted in late 1989. A number of companies have received EPZ status, and about a dozen have begun operations. The EPZ law provides exemptions from some provisions of the Togolese Labor Code, notably the regulations on hiring and firing workers. Employees of EPZ firms do not enjoy the same protection against antiunion discrimination as do other workers. c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor Although the law is silent on the question, forced or compulsory labor does not exist in practice. d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children The Labor Code prohibits the employment of children under the age of 14 in any enterprise. Some types of industrial and technical employment require a minimum age of 18. These age requirements are generally enforced in the formal sector in urban areas by inspectors from the Ministry of Labor. In both urban and rural areas, particularly in farming and petty trading, very young children traditionally assist in their families' work. e. Acceptable Conditions of Work Minimum wages are set by the Government for different categories, but less than the official minimum wage is often paid in practice. Official minimum wages range from approximately $55 to $90 (14,000 to 22,000 CFA francs) per month. Many workers cannot maintain a decent standard of living at the lower official minimum wages, and many must supplement their incomes through second jobs or subsistence farming. The Ministry of Labor is ostensibly responsible for enforcement of the minimum wage system, but there is no effective enforcement in practice. Labor practices are regulated by the Labor Code. The Code stipulates that there should be equal pay for equal work, regardless of sex, and this provision is generally observed in the formal sector. Working hours of all employees in any enterprise, except for agricultural enterprises, normally must not exceed 40 hours per week; at least one 24-hour rest period per week is compulsory; and workers must receive 30 days of paid leave each year. Enforcement is weak, however, and these provisions are not universally respected. Health and safety standards in the workplace are determined by a technical consulting committee in the Ministry of Labor, which may levy penalties on employers who do not meet the standards. In practice, the Ministry's enforcement of the various provisions of the Labor Code is limited. Larger enterprises are required to provide medical services for their employees and usually attempt to respect occupational health and safety rules, but smaller firms often do not.
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