The State Department web site below is a permanent electronic archive of information released prior to January 20, 2001.  Please see www.state.gov for material released since President George W. Bush took office on that date.  This site is not updated so external links may no longer function.  Contact us with any questions about finding information.

NOTE: External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views contained therein.

Department Seal

flag
bar

TITLE:  TOGO HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1994
AUTHOR:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DATE:  FEBRUARY 1995









                              TOGO


President Gnassingbe Eyadema continued to dominate Togo's 
Government.  In 1994 citizens elected a National Assembly in 
generally free and fair elections.  The new Head of Government 
is opposition leader Edem Kodjo who serves as Prime Minister.  
Togo's governmental institutions are, however, still too weak 
and fragile to ensure democratic government in practice.  
Although the February elections produced a slight opposition 
majority in the National Assembly, President Eyadema retains 
the final say in all matters due to his personal control of the 
military and security forces.

The security forces consist primarily of the army, navy, air 
force, national police (Surete), gendarmerie, and regular 
police.  Approximately 90 percent of the army's officers and 70 
percent of its soldiers come from the President's northern 
ethnic group.  The Interior Minister (after June 1994, the 
Secretary of State for Security) is nominally in charge of the 
national police, and the Defense Minister has nominal authority 
over the other security forces.  In fact, all the security 
forces remain loyal to their chief, President Eyadema, and 
carry out whatever orders he gives them.  Members of the 
security forces committed serious acts of brutality against 
civilians.  Except for a few cases, the Government did not 
punish the perpetrators.

About 80 percent of the country's 3.4 million people are 
engaged in subsistence agriculture, but there is also an active 
commercial sector.  Annual per capita gross domestic product is 
less than $400.  The January devaluation of the local currency 
and the suspension of much foreign economic assistance due to 
the country's record of human rights abuses severely damaged 
the economy.

The human rights situation was mixed.  Although the country 
held legislative elections, and the new National Assembly 
assumed some functions of a democratic legislature, there was a 
significant incidence of political violence and abuse of human 
rights.  There were credible reports that in several cases the  
security forces and their allies continued to intimidate, 
harass, and kill civilians and those perceived as enemies of 
President Eyadema with little apparent fear of punishment.  The 
Eyadema Government subjected the opposition press to repeated 
criminal prosecutions for expressing critical views.  An attack 
by Togolese armed dissidents and the Togolese military's 
indiscriminate reaction to it resulted in hundreds of civilian 
deaths and nearly 100 Togolese military fatalities.

Prolonged pretrial detention and beating of prisoners are 
commonplace, and there were several documented cases of 
torture.  Prison conditions remained very harsh.  Defendants' 
rights to fair and expeditious trials are not ensured.  
Discrimination and some violence against women and some abuse 
of children continued.

Although somewhat diminished, there is a large backlog of 
persons awaiting trial--some as long as 3 years--due to lack of 
qualified judicial personnel, an ineffective criminal justice 
system, and indifference to abuses on the part of some 
officials.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

Security forces were responsible for political and 
extrajudicial killing.  In only a few instances has the 
Government proved willing or able to punish the perpetrators.  
On January 5, a group of armed Togolese dissidents based in 
Ghana attacked the main military camp and other government 
sites in Lome with the apparent aim of killing President 
Eyadema and inflicting casualties on the security forces.  
Fatalities among the attackers were low, about 10 by their own 
estimate and somewhat higher according to the Government.  In 
the ensuing 3 days of battle, dissidents killed upwards of 100 
members of the security forces, while up to 500 innocent 
civilians died either at the hands of the attackers or from 
careless and indiscriminate firing by the security forces.  
Security forces summarily executed several Ghanaian youths and 
Togolese military personnel already detained for suspected 
complicity with the Ghana-based attackers.  The Government 
arrested several persons alleged to have been involved in the 
January 5 attack, but it did not prosecute or punish any 
members of the security forces for killing civilians or 
military detainees.

On February 12, according to credible reports, elements of the 
security forces kidnaped and killed Gaston Edeh, newly elected 
National Assembly deputy of the opposition Action Committee for 
Renewal (CAR) party, and two companions.  Throughout the year, 
unknown assailants killed several finance officials, bankers, 
and other businessmen under unexplained circumstances; but the 
perpetrators and their motives were unclear since the crimes 
were not fully investigated.

On January 25, assailants kidnaped and murdered labor leader 
Tchao Idrissou (see Section 6.a.).  On February 18, six 
relatives and associates of the Secretary-General of the same 
union were reportedly kidnaped by persons in uniform; they have 
not been seen since that time.  By year's end, the Government 
had made no arrests nor indicated a suspected motive.

Seven bodies of persons burned beyond recognition were 
discovered around the town of Tsevie, north of Lome, in August 
and September.  Although members of the security forces were 
widely suspected of having committed these killings, police 
conducted only a cursory investigation and made no arrests.  On 
October 9, armed persons credibly identified as Togolese 
dissident forces shot and killed four members of the security 
forces at the gendarmerie and police offices at Vogan, 
southeast Togo.  Several suspects were subsequently arrested 
and made televised confessions, but the private press widely 
questioned whether they were, in fact, the ones who carried out 
the attack.

In only a few cases, the Government arrested or punished 
members of the security forces suspected of involvement in 
extrajudicial killings.  On October 29, authorities arrested 
and detained Lt. Col. Yoma Djoua, the Commander of the 
Presidential Guard, along with Master Sergeant Pouli on charges 
of the robbery and murder of a Togolese notary, Laurent 
Agbemavor, earlier in the year.  Djoua is widely thought to be 
responsible for many past human rights violations and was more 
recently rumored to have been involved in plotting against 
President Eyadema.  The military subsequently demoted Djoua to 
Private.  Djoua retired from the military but had not been 
brought to trial by year's end.  Other military associates of 
Djoua are reportedly in custody.

     b.  Disappearance

There were several disappearances, although most had no evident 
political motive.  In some cases these disappearances were 
credibly linked to members of the security forces.  On 
September 6, armed persons kidnaped Togolese diplomat David 
Bruce, who has not been seen since then.  A witness indicated 
involvement by members of the security forces.  Bruce had been 
Chief of Staff to the President of the High Council of the 
Republic, the opposition-dominated interim National Legislature 
which members of the security forces had earlier targeted with 
threats and violence.  Although the Government began an 
investigation, it has not reported any results.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

Although the law prohibits these practices, security forces and 
their official affiliates reportedly tortured detainees.  The 
most common means of torture was severe beating, and security 
force personnel frequently beat detainees after arresting 
them.  The Government did not prosecute or punish any officials 
for these abuses.

Prison conditions remained very harsh, with serious 
overcrowding and inadequate food and medical care.  Children 
are often incarcerated with adult criminals.  The International 
Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and local private 
organizations have access to prisons for monitoring purposes 
with advance government permission, but the Government 
sometimes denied access to other private international 
nongovernmental groups (NGO's).

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The law allows authorities to hold arrested persons 
incommunicado without charge for 48 hours, with an additional 
48-hour extension in cases deemed serious or complex.  In 
practice, detainees can be and are often detained without bail 
for lengthy periods with the approval of a judge.  Family 
members and attorneys officially have access to a detainee 
after the initial 48- or 96-hour detention period, but 
authorities often delay, and sometimes deny, access.

Judges or senior police officials issue warrants.  Although 
detainees have the right to be informed of the charges against 
them, in practice, police sometimes ignore this right.  The law 
stipulates that a special judge conduct a pretrial 
investigation to examine the adequacy of the evidence and 
decide on bail.  However, a shortage of judges and qualified 
personnel and official indifference have resulted in lengthy 
pretrial detentions--in some cases from 1 to 3 years.  As a 
rough estimate 30 percent of the prison population were 
pretrial detainees.  While a large backlog of untried cases 
remained, the new Government of Prime Minister Kodjo freed a 
significant number of prisoners in pretrial detention whose 
time in jail exceeded that permitted by law.  In rare cases, 
the Government used brief investigative detentions of less than 
48 hours to harass and intimidate opposition journalists for 
alleged defamation of Government officials.

There were several political detentions during the year.  
However, at least 27 political detainees and political 
prisoners were released at year's end under an amnesty proposed 
by President Eyadema and approved by the National Assembly on 
December 15.  The amnesty applies specifically to the armed 
dissidents allegedly involved in the attacks on Lome of March 
25, 1993, and January 5, 1994, as well as to other persons 
inside or outside Togo who allegedly committed political crimes 
through December 14.  It covers opponents of the Government and 
members of the security forces who may have committed 
offenses.  Bikagni Nikabou was arrested in 1992 and held 
without trial until he was tried and sentenced to 3 years' 
imprisonment for arms smuggling on January 7, 1994.  Four 
members of his family were detained without trial starting in 
1992.  Under the general amnesty, the four family members were 
released at the end of the year and Nikabou at the beginning of 
1995.

Police arrested six members of the Union des Forces de 
Changement, the political party associated with President 
Eyadema's opponent, Gilchrist Olympio, for having hung posters 
and for distributing tracts calling on people to boycott the 
February legislative elections.  The authorities released four 
persons without trial, and convicted two of attempting to 
disrupt the elections.  Police arrested Komi Dackey, a local 
official of the Aviation Workers' Union, in January on 
suspicion of involvement in the January 5 attack on Lome by 
Ghana-based Togolese dissidents.  He was held without 
presentation of evidence but was released in December under the 
yearend amnesty.

The Constitution prohibits exile and the Government did not 
formally exile anyone.  However, several opposition leaders 
remained abroad for reasons of personal safety, as did over 
150,000 citizens who left because of political violence, 
notably that committed by the security forces in January 1993.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

Although the judicial system is formally independent of the 
Government, the executive branch can and does intervene at 
times to manipulate the judiciary.  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, and special courts exist to handle cases 
related to public security, embezzlement of public funds, and 
violent crimes.

The court system remained overburdened and understaffed (see 
Section l.d.).  Trials are open to the public, and judicial 
procedures are generally respected.  Defendants have the right 
to counsel and to appeal.  The Bar Association provides 
attorneys for the indigent.  Defendants may confront witnesses, 
present evidence, and enjoy a presumption of innocence.  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.

Political prisoners included Martin Gbenouga, director of the 
newspaper Tribune des Democrats, who was sentenced to 5 years' 
imprisonment for publishing a newspaper article critical of the 
President.  He was pardoned in January 1995 (see Section 
2.a.).  Two members of the opposition political party 
Democratic Convention of the African People, Gerard Akoumey and 
Stephane Koudossou, were released in the yearend amnesty.  They 
had been convicted in September 1993 for placing a bomb in July 
1993 at the headquarters of the CAR Party.  They publicly 
confessed, but some opposition sources asserted that the 
charges were police fabrications and that the confessions had 
been coerced.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
         Correspondence

In criminal cases, a judge or senior police official may 
authorize searches of private residences.  In political and 
national security cases, the security forces need no prior 
authorization.  Police conducted such warrantless searches 
extensively, searching for dissidents' arms caches as well as 
for criminals.  The Government uses telephone taps, monitors 
correspondence, and maintains the police and gendarmerie as 
domestic intelligence services.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and the press.  
However, the authorities engaged in sporadic persecution of the 
independent press, using threats, arrests, prosecutions, and 
occasional seizures of newspapers.  Approximately 15 
independent newspapers were published during the year, many 
highly critical of the President and the Government.  Some 
reported difficulties distributing their editions in interior 
regions because of harassment by supporters of the President, 
including some members of the security forces.

The official media (two radio stations, one television station, 
and one daily newspaper) were generally slanted in favor of 
President Eyadema and the Government, but allowed the 
opposition limited access.  The two private Ghana-based radio 
stations, which had broadcast opposition views in 1993 ceased 
to operate during the year, as did a pro-Eyadema private 
station.

The authorities arrested Martin Gbenouga, director of the 
opposition newspaper Tribune des Democrats, for publishing an 
article critical of President Eyadema and other African 
leaders.  A court convicted Gbenouga on May 6 of insulting the 
President and sentenced him to 5 years' imprisonment.  Gbenouga 
was quickly transferred to one of the country's worst prisons, 
the Mango Penitentiary in Northern Togo   In October Gbenouga's 
conviction was invalidated by the Appeals Court on technical 
grounds.  On January 17, 1995 he was pardoned by the President 
and released.

In March gendarmes briefly detained staff members from the 
opposition Courrier du Golfe newspaper, whose senior officials 
then fled the country.  The newspaper had reported an alleged 
plot by pro-Eyadema forces against opposition leader Yaovi 
Agobyibor and his political party.

On August 31, a court sentenced in absentia the managing and 
assistant editors of the opposition La Sentinelle to 5 years' 
imprisonment and fined them 3 million CFA francs for publishing 
an article that allegedly defamed and threatened President 
Eyadema.  The two defendants had already fled Togo.  The court 
further prohibited the newspaper from publishing for 6 months.

At the University of Benin, Togo's sole university, academic 
freedom is constrained by concern by professors about potential 
harassment by the Government or antiopposition militants.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

Under the Constitution, citizens are free to organize in 
associations and political parties, but fear of harsh reaction 
from the Government has restricted public demonstrations.  In 
February and March, local authorities violently suppressed 
anti-government demonstrations in the largely Muslim city of 
Sokode.  It also violently suppressed religious assemblies 
there during Ramadan, beating the participants.  Although many 
political meetings were held during the legislative election 
campaign, many others were canceled after the murder of elected 
Deputy Gaston Edeh for fear of violence from the pro-Eyadema 
faction.  The Government requires all political parties to 
register and requires advance notification for public 
demonstrations.  On occasion the Government banned 
demonstrations or modified their time or place, citing a threat 
to public safety or interference with public business.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

The Constitution provides for religious freedom, and the 
Government generally respects this right in practice.  However, 
the Government has on occasion used force to dispel religious 
meetings (see Section 2.b.).

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.  In 1993, in the wake 
of political violence by the security forces, more than 250,000 
citizens, mainly southerners, fled to neighboring Benin and 
Ghana, and roughly 125,000 were displaced internally.  Many 
returned, but approximately 150,000 were still abroad at year's 
end because of concern about their personal safety should they 
return or because of other considerations including economic 
ones.  The Government's amnesty law was intended to encourage 
the refugees' return, but results by the end of the year were 
disappointing.  The Government accommodates an estimated 6,000 
refugees, mainly Ghanians, and does not force them to return to 
countries in which they fear persecution.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

Despite Constitutional and structural advances, citizens still 
were only partly able to change their Government.  President 
Eyadema continued to dominate the state apparatus, despite the 
creation of a parliamentary system and the installation of a 
new Government under opposition leader Prime Minister Edem 
Kodjo.  In contrast with the seriously flawed presidential 
elections of 1993, international observers deemed the 
legislative elections in February to be generally free and 
fair, although there were deficiencies, including the 
Government's unwillingness to accredit some foreign observers 
and local poll watchers.

The principles of universal suffrage and secret ballot were 
observed.  However, some members of the security forces, and 
militants engaged with them, are credibly reported to have 
engaged in several bombings and attacks on polling places and 
on one vote-counting center during the second round of the 
legislative elections.  They are also believed responsible for 
the kidnaping and murder of Gaston Edeh, newly elected member 
of the CAR Party.  Opponents of President Eyadema are credibly 
reported to have bombed a house belonging to pro-Eyadema 
Minister of Information Benjamin Agbeka.  The Supreme Court's 
Constitutional Chamber, dominated by Eyadema supporters, 
invalidated the election of Eyadema opponents in three 
districts in a ruling widely considered to be questionable.

Opposition parties won a slight legislative majority and 
President Eyadema named as Prime Minister Edem Kodjo, the 
leader of the smaller opposition party in the legislature, the 
Togolese Union for Democracy, with six seats.  In doing so, he 
met the formal constitutional requirement to name someone "from 
among the parliamentary majority", but bypassed the leader of 
the larger (34-seat) opposition party, the CAR's Yaovi 
Agboyibor.  Although the Government allows opposition political 
parties to function legally and openly, security forces or 
propresidential militants occasionally harassed, threatened, or 
intimidated their members or leaders.

There are no legal restrictions on the participation of women 
in political activities, and many women do so through 
membership in associations and political parties, teachers' 
unions, and protest groups.  However, there was only one female 
minister in the Kodjo Government.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

There are several local private human rights groups.  These 
include the Togolese Human Rights League and the Association 
for the Promotion of the Rule of Law.

The National Human Rights Commission, a government-sponsored 
and government-funded human rights organization, remained 
relatively inactive.  The Paris-based Federation Internationale 
des Ligues des Droits de L'Homme and the International 
Committee of the Red Cross visited and participated in 
seminars.  The U.N. Human Rights Subcommission, Amnesty 
International, and other private organizations criticized the 
Government for abuses including its failure to take action on 
human rights violations in 1993 and earlier, including the 1992 
attempted assassination of opposition leader Gilchrist 
Olympio.  The Government did not respond in detail but termed 
the United Nations report "scandalous and outdated."

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.  However, the Government does not provide 
effective redress for discrimination complaints, and 
discrimination based on both ethnic group and sex is common.

     Women

Despite the law and constitutional protections, women continue 
to experience discrimination, especially in education, pension 
benefits, and traditional law.  A husband may legally oppose 
his wife's right to work and control her earnings.  Employers 
are often reluctant to hire women, especially for higher level 
positions.  Far fewer women than men attend university, and few 
women graduate from secondary school.  In urban areas, women 
dominate local market activities and commerce with Togo's 
neighbors.  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.  Under traditional law, which affects the vast 
majority of women, a wife has no rights in the event of 
divorce, separation, or the death of her husband.

Violence against women, including wife beating, continues.  
Although mechanisms exist within both the traditional extended 
family and formal judicial structures for redress, the police 
rarely intervene in domestic violence cases.  Local houses of 
prostitution exist.  In recent years, instances of trafficking 
in Togolese women for the purposes of prostitution have come to 
public attention.  These women have been promised jobs in the 
Middle East or Europe, transported there, 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 cannot afford adequate protection of children's 
welfare.  There are few juvenile courts, and children are often 
jailed with adult criminals.  Orphans and other needy children 
receive more aid from extended families or private 
organizations than from the State.

Female genital mutilation (FGM), which international health 
experts have condemned as dangerous to both physical and 
psychological health is practiced by a few ethnic groups in 
Togo's northern and central regions.  Although some reports 
indicate the practice, which is typically performed at an early 
age, may be gradually diminishing, as high as 50 percent of 
Togolese women may have undergone FGM.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Members of northern ethnic groups dominate the security forces, 
while southerners dominate most commerce and the professions.  
Southerners also dominate most political parties, except for 
the pro-Eyadema party.  Civil unrest in recent years and 
inadequate law enforcement exacerbated ethnic rivalries dating 
from precolonial times.

With the rise in North-South tensions, majority ethnic group 
members in those regions have harassed and attacked their 
neighbors belonging to the minority groups, forcing them back 
to their home regions.  Mainly southern Togolese fled in 
January 1993 to neighboring Benin and Ghana after some members 
of the security forces in Lome fired indiscriminately on 
civilians (see Section 1.a.).

     People with Disabilities

The Government does not mandate accessibility to public or 
private facilities for people with disabilities.  Although the 
Constitution nominally obliges the Government to aid disabled 
persons and shelter them from social injustice, the Government 
provides only limited assistance in practice.  While there is 
no overt state discrimination against disabled persons, and 
some hold some responsible government positions, the disabled 
have no meaningful recourse against private sector 
discrimination, which compels many to beg.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

The Constitution provides most workers the right to join unions 
and the right to strike.  Security forces, including firemen 
and policemen, do not have these rights; government health care 
workers may join unions but may not strike.  The work force in 
the formal (wage) sector is small, involving about 20 percent 
of the work force, of whom 60 to 70 percent are union members 
or supporters.  There were no strikes in 1994.

There are several major trade union federations.  The National 
Confederation of Togolese Workers (CNTT), though no longer 
formally affiliated with the Government, remains closely 
associated with it.  The Labor Federation of Togolese Workers 
(CSTT) and the National Union of Independent Syndicates (UNSIT) 
probably surpassed the CNTT in membership.  Although 
independent of any political party, they cooperated closely 
with the opposition parties in the 1992-93 general strike, 
which was primarily political in nature.  During the general 
strike, a new labor federation, the General Union of Free 
Unions (UGSL) was formed by workers not in agreement with the 
strike.  This federation is made up primarily of supporters of 
President Eyadema.

The Constitution prohibits discrimination against workers for 
reasons of sex, origin, beliefs, or opinions.  There is no 
specific law prohibiting retribution against strikers.  The 
Government transferred many civil servants in the wake of their 
participation in the 1993 general strike.  Labor leaders and 
opposition politicians denounced these transfers as arbitrary 
and discriminatory.

Security forces threatened and harassed some labor leaders.  
The authorities arrested and imprisoned union official Komi 
Dackey.  Another labor leader, Tchao Idrissou of the Unsyndito 
Chauffeurs' Union, was kidnaped and murdered by unknown persons 
for reasons which may have involved his union activities (see 
Section 1.a.).

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 nominally provides workers with the right to 
organize and bargain collectively.  All formal (wage) sector 
employees are covered by a collective bargaining agreement.  
However, true collective bargaining is limited by the 
Government's role in producing a single 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, but this is not common.  The 
CNTT had a role in the bargaining process in earlier years 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.

The Labor Code prohibits antiunion discrimination.  The 
Ministry of Labor is charged with resolving labor-related 
complaints but does not always do so effectively.

A 1989 law allows the establishment of export processing zones 
(EPZ's).  Many companies have EPZ status, and about 20 are 
currently operating.  The EPZ law provides exemptions from some 
provisions of the Labor Code, notably the regulations on hiring 
and firing.  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 does not address this question, forced or 
compulsory labor is not known to exist.

     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.  Inspectors 
from the Ministry of Labor enforce these age requirements, but 
only in the formal sector in urban areas.  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

The Government sets minimum wages for different categories, 
ranging from unskilled labor through professional positions.  
Less than the official minimum wage is often paid in practice, 
but mostly to less skilled workers.  Official monthly minimum 
wages range from approximately $27.50 to $45 (14,000 to 22,000 
CFA francs).  The minimum wage was established in 1987 and has 
not been changed, despite the January CFA devaluation which 
halved the value of the local currency in dollar terms.  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 does not enforce the law in 
practice.  The Labor Code, which regulates labor practices, 
requires equal pay for equal work, regardless of sex.  However, 
this provision is generally observed only 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.  The 
law requires overtime payments, and there are restrictions on 
excessive overtime.  The Ministry of Labor's enforcement is 
weak, however, and employers often ignore these provisions.

A technical consulting committee in the Ministry of Labor sets 
health and safety standards in the workplace.  It may levy 
penalties on employers who do not meet the standards, and 
employees ostensibly have the right to complain to labor 
inspectors of unhealthy or unsafe conditions without penalty.  
In practice, the Ministry's enforcement of the various 
provisions of the Labor Code is limited.  Larger enterprises 
must legally provide medical services for their employees and 
usually attempt to respect occupational health and safety 
rules, but smaller firms often do not.

(###)


[end of document]

flag
bar

Department Seal

Return to 1994 Human Rights Practices report home page.
Return to DOSFAN home page.
This is an official U.S. Government source for information on the WWW. Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.