Status: In discussion
There is no legislation in Togo specifically developed for protecting HRDs. The Togolese Coalition of Human Rights Defenders developed and validated a draft law in 2019, but this draft law has not yet been approved by the Togolese government. Policy developments are monitored by civil society organisation and during country visits by different UN mechanisms.
Because Togo has signed the UNGA Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the protection mechanisms for Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) has been monitored by UN mechanisms, namely through country visits by the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders. The last mission to Togo was in 2014, where the Special Rapporteur Margaret Sekaggya highlighted the founding of a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission in 2009 to address violations against HRDs and recommended that the Togolese government amend relevant legislation to protect HRDs. These reports and recommendations are certainly useful to obtain an overview of the situation of HRDs in Togo, but have not led to any concrete follow-up by the Togolese government.
Another monitoring mechanism is the OHCHR Universal period review (UPR). The most recent review was in 2022 and included an evaluation of recent developments around legislation protecting HRDs requested by Germany. In 2016, Togo accepted Liechtenstein’s recommendation to ensure safety for women HRDs and Canada’s recommendation to “modifying the legislation that allows the denial of legal registration of organizations specialized in reproductive and sexual rights of women as well as associations defending the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons”. However, no concrete follow-up has proven this commitment.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a lot of work and discussion around the development of a legal framework to protect HRDs. On 12 September 2019, at the initiative of the Togolese Coalition of Human Rights Defenders, a national workshop was held to validate the draft law on the protection of HRDs in Lomé. Since then, there have been several meetings discussing the draft law on the recognition and protection of HRDs. Developments around this draft are hopeful. The Togolese coalition of human rights defenders (CTDDH) validated the preliminary draft of this law on 12 September 2019. On the 10th of August 2021, a working group was organised by the Togolese Ministry of Human Rights between the CTTDH, representatives of the UN Development Programme (PNUD) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Togo is classified as “repressed” by Civicus Monitor and is declared “partly free” by the Freedom House Democracy Index, indicating a significantly constrained civic space and a poor state of political rights. Challenges for the protection of HRDs include a very strict policy on speaking out against any government official. Any critique is punishable under the Press and Communication Code or under the Togolese penal code. Since 2020, journalists using social media to speak up against any government official may face between a one month and two years prison sentence (Article 140 of the Togolese penal code).
References and Documents
Amnesty International (2021). Togo: critical voices muffled. Amnesty International, https://www.amnesty.org/en/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/AFR5742212021ENGLISH.pdf
Code de la presse et de la communication, Loi n°2020‐001 du 07 janvier 2020. https://www.droit-afrique.com/uploads/Togo-Code-2020-presse.pdf
Code pénal du Togo (2005). http://www.vertic.org/media/National%20Legislation/Togo/TG_Code_Penal.pdf
CIVICUS monitor tracking civic space. Togo. Retrieved on 31 March 2022, https://monitor.civicus.org/country/togo/
Freedom Democracy Index. Togo. Retrieved on 31 March 2022, https://freedomhouse.org/country/togo/freedom-world/2022
Government of Togo (2009, May 29). Togo gets truth and reconciliation commission. Reliefweb, https://reliefweb.int/report/togo/togo-gets-truth-and-reconciliation-commission
United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) (1999). Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (Declaration on human rights defenders), A/RES/53/144 (8 March 1999). Available on https://www.ohchr.org/sites/default/files/Documents/Issues/Defenders/Declaration/declaration.pdf
United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) (2014), Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya. A/HRC/25/55/Add. 3 (2014, February 28). https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session25/Documents/A-HRC-25-55-Add3_en.doc
United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) (2022). Universal Period Review (UPR) Togo: Advance Questions to Togo (Second Batch). https://www.ohchr.org/sites/default/files/2022-01/Togo-Advance-Questions-second-batch.docx
UPR info (2017). 2RP: Responses to Recommendations & Voluntary Pledges, Togo. https://www.upr-info.org/sites/default/files/document/togo/session_26_-_november_2016/recommendations_and_pledges_togo_2016.pdf
Updated on 9/03/2022