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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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