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Title: Togo Human Rights Practices, 1995 Author: U.S. Department of State Date: March 1996 TOGO President Gnassingbe Eyadema and his Assembly of the Togolese People (RPT) party, strongly backed by the military, continue to dominate the exercise of political power in Togo. The opposition, however, has since February 1994 held a narrow majority in the National Assembly, and the Government is headed by Edem Kodjo, leader of a small opposition party, the Democratic Union of Togo (UTD). Most of the institutions called for in the Constitution either do not exist or are too weak or fragile to ensure democratic government. Togo took positive steps toward economic and democratic reform and made some progress in its professed intention to move from an authoritarian legacy to multiparty democracy. The security forces consist primarily of the army (including the elite Presidential Guard), navy, air force, the Gendarmerie, and the Surete Nationale (which includes the national police). Approximately 90 percent of army officers and 70 percent of enlisted soldiers come from the President's northern (Kabye) ethnic group. The Minister of the Interior is in charge of the national police and the Defense Minister has authority over other security forces. These ministers remain overwhelmingly loyal to their chief, and thus President Eyadema exercises direct control over the security forces. There are credible reports that members of the security forces committed numerous serious human rights abuses. About 80 percent of the country's estimated 4.3 million citizens are engaged in subsistence agriculture; there is also an active commercial sector. Annual per capita gross domestic product is approximately $300. Foreign donors, notably France and the European Union, resumed military and economic assistance. The economy showed moderate growth this year. The human rights situation improved somewhat, and the number of reported violations significantly diminished. However, the conditions that led to the abuses of the past--the political dominance of President Eyadema and the unchecked actions of the military--still exist, and problems remained in certain areas. There were credible reports that security forces and their allies were responsible for extrajudicial killing, beatings, intimidation, interference with privacy rights, and arbitrary detentions. The Government did not effectively punish any of those involved. In general, the Government does not investigate or punish security force members who commit such abuses. Prolonged pretrial detention is commonplace, and prison conditions remained very harsh. The judicial system fails to ensure defendants' rights to fair and expeditious trials. Some detainees wait as long as 4 years to be judged. There were instances of infringement of freedom of speech of the press by security forces. Discrimination and violence against women continued, as did abuse of children. In August the Government signed an agreement with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to facilitate the safe repatriation of refugees from neighboring Ghana and Benin. Armed dissidents were responsible for the deaths of security force personnel and civilians. 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 at least one extrajudicial killing. On July 27, in Accra, Ghana, unknown persons credibly alleged to be Togolese security forces murdered Lieutenant Vincent Tokofai, a leader of the armed Togolese opposition in Ghana. Lt. Tokofai was one of the guards for Prime Minister Koffigoh who defended the Prime Minister's office during the December 1991 siege by security forces. He was alleged to be the person responsible for killing the brother of President Eyadema during that attack. The Government disclaimed responsibility for Lt. Tokofai's murder but did not investigate, prosecute, or punish anyone for the killing. Lieutenant Colonel Yoma Djoua was convicted of robbery and premeditated murder, and sentenced to 35 years' imprisonment. He had been under arrest since 1994 and was widely thought to have committed many extrajudicial killings on behalf of President Eyadema in the past. There was no resolution of the 1994 murder of Action Committee for Renewal (CAR) party leader Gaston Edeh. On May 13, armed individuals, credibly alleged to be radical opposition forces, fired on security forces in Bagbe, killing five soldiers and two children of civilians. Opposition forces were also responsible for the deaths of six soldiers in an armed battle in the Lome suburb of Ave- Maria June 14, and for an attack in D'akepe which killed three soldiers and three civilians. b. Disappearance There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances. There were, however, no developments in the 1994 disappearance of diplomat David Bruce, nor any resolution of the disappearances of Afougnilede Essiba, Adanou Igbe, Kobono Kowouvi, and another companion, arrested by soldiers at an armed checkpoint in Adetikope in 1994. In 1994 the Government began an investigation of the Bruce disappearance, but has not yet reported results. c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment The law prohibits these practices, but on numerous occasions security forces beat detainees immediately after arresting them. Some suspects claimed to have been tortured. The Government did not investigate, prosecute, or punish any officials for these abuses. Prison conditions remained very harsh, with serious overcrowding and inadequate sanitation and food. Medical facilities are practically nonexistent, and widespread disease in prisons led to numerous deaths of incarcerated individuals. Children are often incarcerated with convicted adults. International and local private organizations have access to prisons for monitoring purposes. Women are housed separately. 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 often are 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 other qualified personnel plus official indifference have resulted in lengthy pretrial detentions--in some cases up to 4 years. An estimated 15 percent of the prison population were pretrial detainees. 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 (see Section 2.a.). There were credible allegations of arbitrary arrests and detention. On June 23, military police arrested Lt. Adiliou Badie of the national gendarmerie in Lome. He was allegedly the leader of a group trying to free Lt. Col. Djoua (see Section l.a.). Held without trial or charges, Badie remains incarcerated at the officers' mess in Kara. Security forces detained former refugee Kokou Koudaya and Ghanaian Salifou Zakari without trial and without access to a lawyer or family for 10 months; both claimed to have been tortured. Koudaya, an opposition party member, was charged with arms possession and fraud. Although their arrests predated the general amnesty of December 14, 1994, they were not released until August 28. The Constitution prohibits exile, and the Government did not formally exile anyone. e. Denial of Fair Public Trial Although the Constitution provides for an independent judiciary, the executive branch continued to influence the judiciary in practice. The Supreme Court stands at the apex of the court system. The civil judiciary system includes the Sessions (Court of Assizes) and Appeals Courts. A military tribunal exists for crimes committed by security forces, but its proceedings are closed. Traditional law discriminates against women, particularly in the area of inheritance. The court system remained overburdened and understaffed (see Section l.d.), and magistrates, like most government employees, are not always paid on time. The judicial system employs both African traditional law and the Napoleonic Code in trying criminal and civil cases. 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 cases to the regular court system, which is the starting point for cases in urban areas. The Government released all political prisoners in late 1994 and early 1995 under the December 1994 general amnesty. Several opposition groups claim that the Government holds nine prisoners at the Kara military prison for political reasons, but most groups--including the independent Togolese League of Human Rights--consider them to be civil prisoners convicted in a public trial in which their rights to due process were respected. 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 searches without warrants, searching for dissidents' arms caches as well as for criminals. The Government monitors telephones and 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, and the Government generally respects these rights in practice, although on occasion it intimidated journalists through threats, detention, and persecution. Authorities detained Knock-Kalao Billy, director of publication of the satirical weekly newspaper Kpakpa Desenchante on June 2, following publication of an article critical of the gendarmerie. He was released after a few hours of questioning. In November, Fulbert Altisso, director of the opposition newspaper L'Eveil du Peuple, was arrested and charged with defamation in regard to an article accusing security forces of murdering four civilians. The Government released him December 26. Journalist Martin Dossou Gbenouga, Managing Editor of Tribune des Democrats, was pardoned after originally being convicted of defamation of the President, and released in January. In early August, the Secretary of State for Security cited an outdated law in an attempt to penalize opposition newspapers for not conforming to government guidelines. The same week, security forces confiscated issues of La Sentinelle and La Lettre de Tchaoudjo and harassed street vendors of opposition newspapers. The editors of La Sentinelle who fled the country in 1994 remain abroad. Authorities also seized copies of the opposition La Crocodile from the streets. There is a lively press--often extremely critical of President Eyadema and Prime Minister Kodjo--of approximately 10 independent newspapers. There is one independent radio station, but it operates without an official license. The official media consist of one radio station, one television station, and one daily newspaper. Although they were generally slanted in favor of President Eyadema and the Government, they allowed the opposition limited access. In October two private television stations received licenses to broadcast, but neither provide any reporting of local or national events. At the University of Benin, Togo's sole university, academic freedom is constrained by concern among 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 reduced public demonstrations. c. Freedom of Religion The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice. d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation The Constitution provides for these rights, and the Government generally respects them in practice. However, armed roadblocks and arbitrary searches of vehicles are commonplace. The lack of discipline of the soldiers manning the roadblocks, and actions such as firing at vehicles and frequently demanding bribes before allowing citizens to pass, impedes free movement within the country. Of the estimated 300,000 refugees who had left Togo for security-related or economic reasons in the early 1990's, approximately 100,000 have still not returned. In August the Government negotiated an agreement with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for the repatriation of an estimated 45,000 Togolese refugees living in Benin and 75,000 to 80,000 living in Ghana. At year's end, registration of refugees had begun, and some spontaneous repatriations had taken place. The Government accommodates roughly 8,500 refugees, mainly Ghanaians, and there were no reports of forced expulsion of those having a valid claim to refugee status. Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change their Government The Constitution provides for the right of citizens peacefully to change their government. In recent elections, however, this right has been only partly respected. Although international observers considered the 1994 legislative elections to be generally free and fair, they found the 1993 presidential elections to be seriously flawed. Institutions created to ensure transparency in electoral procedures and to adjudicate election disputes, such as the National Electoral Commission and the Constitutional Court, are still not in place. Three legislative seats won by the opposition, then questionably invalidated by the Supreme Court's Constitutional Chamber in 1994, remain unfilled. There has been no significant progress toward setting by-elections. Although the opposition majority in Parliament has on occasion shown independence, President Eyadema continues to dominate the Government. In 1994 Eyadema used a questionable interpretation of the Constitution to install Edem Kodjo, the leader of a minority opposition party, the UTD, as Prime Minister. While Kodjo has demonstrated some independence from Eyadema--notably in successfully negotiating the refugee repatriation agreement with the UNHCR and a less successful effort to open the phosphate parastatal to private investment--Eyadema continues to influence important ministerial nominations, and maintains a highly centralized government. The Government does not openly restrict the functioning of political opponents, but the President uses the strength of the military and his government allies to intimidate and harass citizens and opposition groups. Eyadema also continues to influence the judiciary. The 9-month boycott of the National Assembly by the opposition majority CAR party limited the Parliament's ability to act independently of the President. The CAR returned to Parliament in August. The Constitution provides for universal suffrage and a secret ballot. There are no legal restrictions on the participation of women or ethnic minority members in political activities. Although many women are members of associations and political parties, teachers' unions, and protest groups, there was only one female minister in government and one female deputy in the National Assembly. Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights There are several local private human rights groups, including the Togolese Human Rights League (LTDH) and the Association for the Promotion of the Rule of Law. Several international human rights organizations, including the U.N. Center for Human Rights, visited Togo. In general the Government allows these groups access to investigate alleged violations of human rights, although there were instances of threats and intimidation of human rights leaders. The National Human Rights Commission (CNDH), a government-sponsored and government-funded human rights organization, hosted a 3-day seminar for African national human rights commissions. Together with the LTDH, the CNDH was vital in the release of Kokou Koudaya and Salifou Zakari (see Section l.d.), but was otherwise relatively inactive. The International Committee of the Red Cross has a permanent representative in Togo. 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 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, and some trafficking in Togolese women for the purposes of prostitution or for exploiting women as domestic servants occurs with no visible effort by the Government to curtail these abuses. Women's groups and related nongovernmental organizations have active campaigns to inform women of their rights. Despite a constitutional declaration of equality under the law, women continue to experience discrimination, especially in education, pension benefits, and as a consequence of traditional law. A husband may legally oppose his wife's right to work and control her earnings, as well as decide where his family will live. Employers are often reluctant to hire women, especially for higher-level positions. Far fewer women than men attend university, and fewer women graduate from secondary school. Families traditionally give boys priority over girls when deciding who shall attend 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 applies for the vast majority of women, a wife has no rights of survivorship in the event of divorce, separation, or the death of her husband. Children Although the Constitution and laws provide for the protection of children's rights, in practice government programs often suffer from a lack of money and materials. The Government provides free education in state schools, and there are social programs to provide free health care for poor children. Orphans and other needy children receive some aid from extended families or private organizations but less from the State. There are few juvenile courts, and children are often jailed with adults. There are credible reports that trafficking in children for the purpose of forced labor exists (see Section 6.c.). Female genital mutilation (FGM) is widely condemned by international health experts as damaging to both physical and psychological health. The Government has no stated policy on FGM, which is practiced by some ethnic groups in Togo's northern and central regions. Although there are no reliable figures, according to some estimates, as many as 50 percent of Togolese women may have undergone FGM. 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 responsible government positions, the disabled have no meaningful recourse against private sector discrimination, which compels many to beg. National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities Members of northern ethnic groups dominate the security forces, while southerners dominate most commerce and the professions. With a few exceptions, southerners and northerners are also divided along political lines. Civil unrest in recent years and inadequate or prejudicial 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. In recent years, many Togolese, predominantly southerners, fled to neighboring Benin and Ghana, and members of northern ethnic groups were internally displaced. Section 6 Worker Rights a. The Right of Association The Constitution provides most workers with 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 was one publicly announced strike, a 1-day "wildcat strike" by a group of Air Afrique airline workers. There are several major trade union federations. These include the National Confederation of Togolese Workers (CNTT), closely associated with the Government, the Labor Federation of Togolese Workers (CSTT), the National Union of Independent Syndicates (UNSIT), and the Union of Free Trade Unions.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. The Constitution also prohibits discrimination against workers for reasons of sex, origin, beliefs, or opinions. There is no specific law prohibiting retribution against strikers. b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively The Labor Code nominally provides workers with the right to organize and bargain collectively. All formal 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 which was signed by the unions, management, and the Government. This agreement set 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 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 protections against antiunion discrimination as do other workers. c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor The law does not specifically address this question, and children are sometimes engaged in forced labor, primarily as domestic servants. Credible sources have confirmed the international trafficking of children, most often to other West and Central African countries, but also to the Middle East and Asia. In rural areas, parents sometimes force young children into domestic work in other households in exchange for cash. The Government has done nothing to stop this 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. 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. Under the Constitution, school is mandatory for both sexes to age 15, but this is not strictly enforced. 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, mostly to less-skilled workers. Official monthly minimum wages range from approximately $28 to $44 (cfa 14,000 to cfa 22,000). This 1987 minimum wage has not been revised, despite the 50 percent devaluation of the CFA in 1994. 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 compensation, and there are restrictions on excessive overtime work. 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 workplace health and safety standards. 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. Large 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. (###)
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