The Ewes moved into the area which is now Togo from the Niger River valley between the 12th and 14th centuries. During the 15th and 16th centuries, Portuguese explorers and traders visited the coast. For the next 200 years, the coastal region was a major raiding center for Europeans in search of slaves, earning Togo and the surrounding region the name "The Slave Coast." In an 1884 treaty signed at Togoville, Germany declared a protectorate over a stretch of territory along the coast and gradually extended its control inland. Because it became Germany's only self-supporting colony, Togoland was known as its model possession. In 1914, Togoland was invaded by French and British forces and fell after brief resistance. Following the war, Togoland became a League of Nations mandate divided for administrative purposes between France and the United Kingdom.
After World War II, the mandate became a UN trust territory administered by the United Kingdom and France. During the mandate and trusteeship periods, western Togo was administered as part of the British Gold Coast. In 1957, the residents of British Togoland voted to join the Gold Coast as part of the new independent nation of Ghana.
By statute in 1955, French Togo became an autonomous republic within the French union, although it retained its UN trusteeship status. A legislative assembly elected by universal adult suffrage had considerable power over internal affairs, with an elected executive body headed by a prime minister responsible to the legislature. These changes were embodied in a constitution approved in a 1956 referendum. On September 10, 1956, Nicholas Grunitzky became prime minister of the Republic of Togo. However, due to irregularities in the plebiscite, an unsupervised general election was held in 1958 and won by Sylvanus Olympio. On April 27, 1960, in a smooth transition, Togo severed its constitutional ties with France, shed its UN trusteeship status, and became fully independent under a provisional constitution with Olympio as president.
A new constitution in 1961 established an executive president, elected for 7 years by universal suffrage and a weak National Assembly. The president was empowered to appoint ministers and dissolve the assembly, holding a monopoly of executive power. In elections that year, from which Grunitzky's party was disqualified, Olympio's party won 90% of the vote and all 51 National Assembly seats, and he became Togo's first elected president.
During this period, four principal political parties existed in Togo: the leftist Juvento (Togolese youth movement); the Union Democratique des Populations Togolaises (IDPT); the Parti Togolais Du Progres (PTP), founded by Grunitzky but having limited support; and the Unite Togolaise (UT), the party of President Olympio. Rivalries between elements of these parties had begun as early as the 1940s, and they came to a head with Olympio dissolving the opposition parties in January 1962 ostensibly because of plots against the majority party government. Many opposition members, including Grunitzky, fled to avoid arrest.
On January 13, 1963, President Olympio was assassinated in an uprising of army non-commissioned officers dissatisfied with conditions following their discharge from the French army. Grunitzky returned from exile 2 days later to head a provisional government with the title of prime minister. On May 5, 1963, the Togolese adopted a new constitution which reinstated a multi-party system, chose deputies from all political parties for the National Assembly, and elected Grunitzky as president and Antoine Meatchi as vice president. Nine days later, President Grunitzky formed a government in which all parties were represented.
During the next several years, the Grunitzky government's power became insecure. On November 21, 1966, an attempt to overthrow Grunitzky, inspired principally by civilian political opponents in the UT party, was unsuccessful. Grunitzky then tried to lessen his reliance on the army, but on January 13, 1967, Lt. Col. Etienne Eyadema (later Gen. Gnassingbe Eyadema) ousted President Grunitzky in a bloodless military coup. Political parties were banned, and all constitutional processes were suspended. The committee of national reconciliation ruled the country until April 14, when Eyadema assumed the presidency. In late 1969, a single national political party, the Assembly of the Togolese People (RPT), was created, and President Eyadema was elected party president on November 29, 1969. In 1972, a national referendum, in which Eyadema ran unopposed, confirmed his role as the country's president.
In late 1979, Eyadema declared a third republic and a transition to greater civilian rule with a mixed civilian and military cabinet. He garnered 99.97% of the vote in uncontested presidential elections held in late 1979 and early 1980. A new constitution also provided for a national assembly to serve primarily as a consultative body. Eyadema was reelected to a third consecutive 7-year term in December 1986 with 99.5% of the vote in an uncontested election. On September 23, 1986, a group of some 70 armed Togolese dissidents crossed into Lome from Ghana in an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the Eyadema government.
In 1989 and 1990, Togo, like many other countries, was affected by the winds of democratic change sweeping eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. On October 5, 1990, the trial of students who handed out antigovernment tracts sparked riots in Lome. Antigovernment demonstrations and violent clashes with the security forces marked the months that followed. In April 1991, the government began negotiations with newly formed opposition groups and agreed to a general amnesty that permitted exiled political opponents to return to Togo. After a general strike and further demonstrations, the government and opposition signed an agreement to hold a "national forum" on June 12, 1991.
The national forum, dominated by opponents of President Eyadema, opened in July 1991 and immediately declared itself to be a sovereign "National Conference." Although subjected to severe harassment from the government, the conference drafted an interim constitution calling for a 1-year transitional regime tasked with organizing free elections for a new government. The conference selected Joseph Kokou Koffigoh, a lawyer and human rights group head, as transitional prime minister but kept President Eyadema as chief of state for the transition, although with limited powers.
A test of wills between the president and his opponents followed over the next 3 years during which President Eyadema gradually gained the upper hand. Frequent political paralysis and intermittent violence marked this period. Following a vote by the transitional legislature (High Council of the Republic) to dissolve the President's political party--the RPT--in November 1991, the army attacked the prime minister's office on December 3 and captured the prime minister. Koffigoh then formed a second transition government in January 1992 with substantial participation by ministers from the President's party. Opposition leader Gilchrist Olympio, son of the slain president Sylvanus Olympio, was ambushed and seriously wounded apparently by soldiers on May 5, 1992.
In July and August 1992, a commission composed of presidential and opposition representatives negotiated a new political agreement. On September 27, the public overwhelmingly approved the text of a new, democratic constitution, formally initiating Togo's fourth republic.
The democratic process was set back in October 1992, when elements of the army held the interim legislature hostage for 24 hours. This effectively put an end to the interim legislature. In retaliation, on November 16, opposition political parties and labor unions declared a general strike intended to force President Eyadema to agree to satisfactory conditions for elections. The general strike largely shut down Lome for months and resulted in severe damage to the economy.
In January 1993, President Eyadema declared the transition at an end and reappointed Koffigoh as prime minister under Eyadema's authority. This set off public demonstrations, and, on January 25, members of the security forces fired on peaceful demonstrators, killing at least 19. In the ensuing days, several security force members were waylaid and injured or killed by civilian oppositionists. On January 30, 1994, elements of the military went on an 8-hour rampage throughout Lome, firing indiscriminately and killing at least 12 people. This incident provoked more than 300,000 Togolese to flee Lome for Benin, Ghana, or the interior of Togo. Although most had returned by early 1996, some still remain abroad.
On March 25, 1993, armed Togolese dissident commandos based in Ghana attacked Lome's main military camp and tried unsuccessfully to kill President Eyadema. They inflicted significant casualties, however, which set off lethal reprisals by the military against soldiers thought to be associated with the attackers.
Under substantial domestic and foreign pressure and the burden of the general strike, the presidential faction entered negotiations with the opposition in early 1993. Four rounds of talks led to the July 11 Ouagadougou agreement setting forth conditions for upcoming presidential and legislative elections and ending the general strike as of August 3, 1993. The presidential elections were set for August 25, but hasty and inadequate technical preparations, concerns about fraud, and the lack of effective campaign organization by the opposition led the chief opposition candidates--former minister and Organization of African Unity Secretary General Edem Kodjo and lawyer Yawovi Agboyibo--to drop out of the race before election day and to call for a boycott. President Eyadema won the elections by a 96.42% vote against token opposition. About 36% of the voters went to the polls; the others boycotted.
Ghana-based armed dissidents launched a new commando attack on military sites in Lome in January 1994. President Eyadema was unhurt, and the attack and subsequent reaction by the Togolese armed forces resulted in hundreds of deaths, mostly civilian. The government went ahead with legislative elections on February 6 and February 20, 1994. In generally free and fair polls as witnessed by international observers, the allied opposition parties UTD and CAR together won a narrow majority in the National Assembly. On April 22, President Eyadema named Edem Kodjo, the head of the smaller opposition party, the UTD, as prime minister instead of Yawovi Agboyibo, whose CAR party had far more seats. Kodjo's acceptance of the post of prime minister provoked the CAR to break the opposition alliance and refuse to join the Kodjo government.
Kodjo was then forced to form a governing coalition with the RPT. Kodjo's government emphasized economic recovery, building democratic institutions and the rule of law and the return of Togolese refugees abroad. In early 1995, the government made slow progress toward its goals, aided by the CAR's August 1995 decision to end a 9-month boycott of the National Assembly. However, Kodjo was forced to reshuffle his government in late 1995, strengthening the representation by Eyadema's RPT party, and he resigned in August 1996. Since then, Eyadema has reemerged with a sure grip on power, controlling most aspects of government.
In the June 1998 presidential election, the government prevented citizens from effectively exercising the right to vote. The Interior Ministry declared Eyadema the winner with 52% of the vote in the 1998 election; however, serious irregularities in the government's conduct of the election strongly favored the incumbent and appear to have affected the outcome materially. Although the government did not obstruct the functioning of political opponents openly, the President used the strength of the military and his government allies to intimidate and harass citizens and opposition groups. The government and the state remained highly centralized: President Eyadema's national government appointed the officials and controlled the budgets of all subnational government entities, including prefectures and municipalities, and influenced the selection of traditional chiefs.
The second multi-party legislative elections of Eyadema's 33-year rule were held on March 21, 1999. However, the opposition boycotted the election, in which the ruling party won 79 of the 81 seats in the National Assembly. Those two seats went to candidates from little-known independent parties. Procedural problems and significant fraud, particularly misrepresentation of voter turnout marred the legislative elections.
After the legislative election, the government announced that it would continue to pursue dialog with the opposition. In June 1999, the RPT and opposition parties met in Paris, in the presence of facilitators representing France, Germany, the European Union, and La Francophonie (an international organization of French-speaking countries), to agree on security measures for formal negotiations in Lome. In July 1999, the government and the opposition began discussions, and on July 29, 1999, all sides signed an accord called the "Lome Framework Agreement," which included a pledge by President Eyadema that he would respect the constitution and not seek another term as president after his current one expires in 2003. The accord also called for the negotiation of a legal status for opposition leaders, as well as for former heads of state (such as their immunity from prosecution for acts in office). In addition, the accord addressed the rights and duties of political parties and the media, the safe return of refugees, and the security of all citizens. The accord also contained a provision for compensating victims of political violence. The President also agreed to dissolve the National Assembly in March and hold new legislative elections, which would be supervised by an independent national election commission (CENI) and which would use the single-ballot method to protect against some of the abuses of past elections. However, the March 2000 date passed without presidential action, and new legislative elections were ultimately rescheduled for October 2001. Because of funding problems and disagreements between the government and opposition, the elections were again delayed, this time until March 2002.
As called for in the Lome Framework Agreement, a joint implementation committee (JIC) began meeting on August 10, 1999, to implement the agreement's provisions. In December 1999, the JIC sent new Electoral Code legislation to the government establishing the new CENI. On April 5, 2000, the President signed into law a new Electoral Code that established the CENI, which is composed of 10 members of the President's RPT party and 10 members of the opposition. Most opposition parties accepted the new Electoral Code. In July 2000, the CENI elected Artheme Ahoomey-Zunu, a member of the opposition Pan-African Patriotic Convergence Party (CPP), to be its president.
Today, Togo is a republic dominated by President Gnassingbe Eyadema, who has ruled since 1967, when he came to power following a military coup. Although opposition political parties were legalized following widespread protests in 1991, Eyadema and his Rally of the Togolese People (RPT), strongly backed by the armed forces, have continued to dominate political power. Despite the Government's professed intention to move from authoritarian rule to democracy, institutions established ostensibly to accomplish this transition did not do so in practice. The 1998 presidential and 1999 legislative elections were marred by procedural problems and significant fraud, particularly the misrepresentation of voter turnout. The RPT holds 79 of the 81 seats in the National Assembly. Legislative elections, originally scheduled for March 2000, were rescheduled until October for "technical reasons," but again were delayed until 2002. Eyadema and his supporters maintain firm control over all facets and levels of the country's highly centralized Government. The executive branch continues to influence the judiciary.
Approximately 80 percent of the country's estimated population of 4.6 million is engaged in subsistence agriculture, but there also is an active commercial sector. The main exports are phosphates, cotton, and cocoa, which are the leading sources of foreign exchange. Per capita gross domestic product remains less than $400 (292,800 CFA francs) a year. Economic growth continued to lag behind population growth. The Government privatized several companies during the year 2001, began anticorruption efforts, and took steps to increase its budgetary and fiscal discipline. In 2000 the national electric company was privatized, and the Government opened the national phosphate parastatal to private capital. According to the International Monetary Fund, the Government enacted expenditure controls, helping it meet budgetary targets and show good fiscal discipline. In January the Government created the National Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), which arrested numerous public and private officials, and recovered more than $1 million (750 million CFA francs) in diverted public funds during the year 2001. However, international and bilateral donors continued their suspension of foreign aid because of the Government's weak democratization efforts and poor human rights record.
INCIDENCE OF CRIME
Togo has provided data neither for United Nations nor INTERPOL surveys of crime; however, an estimate of crime is given in the United States State Department's Consular Information Sheet according to which ... "Togo has experienced periodic violence, strikes, and political tensions since 1990. These periods of unrest often lead to a clampdown by security forces, particularly in Lome. In addition, the government has in the past been known to open/close its border with Ghana from time to time. Pick-pocketing and theft are common, especially along the beach and in the market areas of Lome. Residential burglary is becoming more common, as are carjackings.
The security forces consist of the army (including the elite Presidential guard), navy, air force, the Surete Nationale (including the national police), and the Gendarmerie. Approximately 90 percent of the army's officers and 70 percent of its soldiers are from the Kabye ethnic minority. Although the Minister of the Interior is nominally in charge of the national police and the Defense Minister has nominal authority over most other security forces, all security forces effectively are controlled by President Eyadema. Members of the security forces effectively curtailed civil liberties of regime opponents, especially in the northern part of the country. Members of the security forces continued to commit serious human rights abuses.
There were no confirmed reports of the arbitrary or unlawful deprivation of life committed by the Government or its agents during the year 2001; however, several extrajudicial killings that were committed in previous years but unreported were discovered during the year 2001.
There were no developments in the investigation of the March 2000 killing of an alleged government-paid agitator on the University of Benin campus in Lome.
There were no developments in the 1999 killing of a missionary in Lome or the 1999 case in which gendarmes raided the Akodessewa-Kpota shantytown neighborhood in Lome and set fires that reportedly killed two children.
In 2000 the Government agreed to a joint U.N. and Organization of African Unity (OAU) Commission of Inquiry to investigate a 1999 Amnesty International report that accused the Government of throwing hundreds of bodies--presumably members of the opposition--into the sea during the 1998 presidential elections. The Commission visited the country in 2000 and in February the Commission released the results of its investigation. The Commission said there was credible evidence of some extrajudicial killings that merited further investigation; however, no further investigation occurred during the year 2001. The report also identified extrajudicial killings and disappearances committed during the 1998 elections that had not been reported. The Commission's report alleged that security forces or militias linked to government authorities killed the following persons: Kodjo Ahadji in December 1998 from torture and ill-treatment in the Civil Prison of Lome; Anani Teko Allyn in November 1998; Koffi Amouzou in June 1998; Koffi Roger Ahiakpo in June 1998; Kossi Kossi in June 1998; Koffie Tenou in June 1998 from torture and ill-treatment in the Civil Prison of Lome; Germain Palanga N'Gamnouwe in April 1998 after being tortured at the Kara National Gendarmerie Station; Pele Keleou in April 1998 after being tortured at the Kara Gendarmerie Station; and Hoffia Messan Pomeavor in March 1998.
In March the Government established a national Commission of Inquiry to investigate the Commission's allegations, which concluded that these allegations were unfounded. The Government's Commission found that Pomeavor, Amouzou, Ahiakpo and Kossi were unknown to the security forces, and one person was stabbed to death in an armed robbery. It said that Anani Teko Allyn was killed accidentally by a warning shot fired by a Kossi Hor, a gendarme, in an attempt to disperse a violent demonstration. The Government claimed that Hor was disciplined for this incident. The Commission also found that Ahadji and Tenou died of natural causes, and neither of their autopsies found signs of violence.
In its June report, the Government's Commission of Inquiry stated that Togolese Human Rights League (LTDH) founding member Dr. Tona Pierre Adigo committed suicide in his car in 1998 and that businessman Malou Borozi was killed during a carjacking in 1998. The Commission also reported that a soldier, Tchingli N'doa, accidentally killed Ayele Akakpo in 1998. In October 1998, the case was forwarded to National Prosecutor's Office; however, no further action reportedly was taken by year's end 2001. In August the Government arrested a suspect in the September 1998 killing of Koffi Mathieu Kegbe, a local activist in the opposition Action for Renewal Committee (CAR) party in Yoto Prefecture; no further action was taken by year's end 2001.
On April 7 in Akodessewa, a mob lynched Anani Adable and Apelete Koffi Klutse, two alleged thieves; there was no suspicion of government involvement, and there was no investigation into their deaths by year's end 2001.
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.
A 1999 Amnesty International report stated that hundreds of bodies--presumably those of opposition members--were thrown into the sea around the time of the 1998 presidential elections. According to Amnesty International, the corpses were found and buried by Beninese fishermen. The Government strongly denied the accusations and initiated legal proceedings against Amnesty International in 1999; however, it later dropped the suit prior to the arrival of the U.N./OAU Commission of Inquiry. The independent Benin Human Rights League reported that bodies were dropped along the coastal waters by military aircraft, although other official sources in Benin denied that this event happened. In 2000 a U.N./OAU commission arrived to investigate those charges and other alleged disappearances. In its final report released in February, the U.N./OAU Commission of Inquiry reported the disappearance of the following six persons, previously unreported, each of whom was last seen under arrest by security forces in 1998: Koffi "Hitler" Akakpossa, last seen on December 22; Nicolas Assiongbon, last seen in October; Adrisse "Ringo" Djiewone, last seen on August 10; Yao Homawoo, last seen February 8; Kokou Akakpo, last seen February 7; Eugene Senyo, last seen February 7.
There were no developments in the 1994 disappearance of David Bruce, a high-level Foreign Ministry employee sympathetic to the opposition, which remained under investigation by the Government.
The law prohibits torture and physical abuse of prisoners and detainees; however, security forces often beat detainees after arresting them. Some suspects have claimed credibly to have been beaten, burned, or denied access to food and medical attention. Impunity remains a problem, and the Government did not prosecute publicly any officials for these abuses.
On April 17, security forces arrested former Army Chief of Staff LTC Bitenewe who claimed he was beaten while in incommunicado detention at the barracks of the Para-Commando Regiment in Kara.
On May 29, Thomas Gnandi and Kodjo Gbodzisi, the President and Vice President of the Student Council at the University of Lome (CEUL) alleged that police in Lome arrested and tortured them.
Security forces harassed, intimidated, and beat journalists.
Security forces used tear gas, truncheons, and batons to disperse forcibly numerous demonstrators. For example, on February 24, police used tear gas and truncheons to disperse forcibly opposition party demonstrators; 10 demonstrators were injured.
On August 11 and August 18, security forces forcibly dispersed opposition party demonstrators, who were protesting against the August 3 imprisonment of opposition CAR party President Yawovi Agboyibo. The security forces dispersed the demonstrators with tear gas and truncheons; some demonstrators suffered cuts and bruises. Several demonstrators were arrested and later released without being charged.
No known action was taken during the year 2001 against security forces who used excessive force when forcibly dispersing demonstrations on the following dates in 2000: July 6; February 17; and January 12.
An Angolan diplomat accredited to Benin and Togo was arrested and allegedly tortured in 1999 for allegedly attempting to kidnap one of Jonas Savimbi's children. The diplomat was released quickly and deported immediately; the Government took no action on the allegations of torture.
There was neither investigation into nor action taken in the following cases from 1999: The case in which security forces reportedly tortured a human rights monitor; the August case in which police, gendarmes, and military personnel reportedly detained and beat five young men; the May case in which security forces allegedly beat and tortured Ameen Ayodele; and the March case in which security forces in Lome beat university student Gerard Amedjro and a female friend.
On April 5, the Union of Forces for Change (UFC) claimed that RPT militants outside of Tchamba doused UFC Secretary General Jean-Pierre Fabre with gasoline and threatened to set him on fire. Security forces finally intervened. There was no investigation into the incident.
The Constitution provides for the sanctity of residences, the confidentiality of correspondence and telecommunications, and prohibits searches and seizures not prescribed by law; however, security forces often infringed on these rights. 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 arms caches as well as for criminals, often under the guise of searching for identity cards. Armed security checkpoints exist throughout the country, and security forces regularly search vehicles, baggage, and individuals in the name of security.
Security forces entered private residences, particularly in the north, for the purpose of disrupting meetings among opposition political figures. On April 2, six gendarmes entered the home of an opposition UFC representative in Kara, broke up a meeting being held there, and seized a videotape recording of the session. On August 3, the prefect of Agou, accompanied by security forces, interrupted a meeting in the residence of a UFC activist and ordered those attending to disperse.
Citizens believe that the Government monitors telephones and correspondence, although this surveillance has not been confirmed. The police and National Gendarmerie performed domestic intelligence functions. The Government maintained a system of informers on the university campus.
Arbitrary arrest and detention remained problems. 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, held without bail for lengthy periods with or without the approval of a judge. Family members and attorneys officially have access to a detainee after an initial 48- or 96-hour detention period; however, 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, police sometimes ignore this right. The law stipulates that a special judge conduct a pretrial investigation to examine the adequacy of evidence and decide on bail. However, a shortage of judges and other qualified personnel, plus official inaction, have resulted in lengthy pretrial detention--in some cases several years--and confinement of prisoners for periods exceeding the time they would have had to serve if they had been tried and convicted. For example, Kokou Alowou and Dela Atidepe were arrested in 1993, charged with armed robbery and manslaughter, and still were awaiting trial at year's end 2001. In 2000 an estimated 50 percent of the prison population was pretrial detainees; there were no available statistics for the pretrial detainee population at year's end 2001.
The Government continued to use brief investigative detentions of less than 48 hours to harass and intimidate opposition activists and journalists. For example, on May 29, Thomas Gnandi and Kodjo Gbodzisi, the President and Vice President of CEUL, were arrested and detained overnight following a call for student protests. They were not charged. The Government at times has resorted to false charges of common crimes to arrest, detain, and intimidate opponents.
On April 17, security forces arrested and imprisoned former Army Chief of Staff LTC Kouma Bitenewe at the Para-Commando Camp in Kara, allegedly for dereliction of duty. He reportedly was held incommunicado and beaten. He was neither charged nor tried for his supposed offense. He was released from detention and was under house arrest at year's end 2001.
On June 6, former Human Rights Minister and Rally for the Support of Democracy and Development (RSDD) president Harry Olympio was arrested for the production and possession of explosives. Minister of Interior General Sizing Walla accused Olympio of plotting a coup. After a seriously flawed trial, Olympio was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in prison and fined.
On September 27, gendarmes arrested opposition UFC Party leader Mark Palanga in his Kozah offices. Palanga was tried, convicted, and sentenced to 6 months in prison for defamation of northern military zone commander Lieutenant Colonel Ernest Gnassinge, the President's son.
In November security forces detained student union leader Hounjo Mawudzuro and charged him with defamation after he accused the paramilitary police of torture. On November 28, he was released and the charges were dropped.
Five persons were arrested, detained, and ultimately convicted of crimes for political reasons during the year 2001.
Members of the security forces arrested and detained journalists, sometimes without charging them with any offense. On October 13, the Gendarmerie arrested journalist Komi Nemvame Klu for publishing "false information" about public figures. On October 30, he was released without charge.
After forcibly dispersing several demonstrations during the year 2001, members of the security forces arrested and detained numerous persons, sometimes without charging them with any offense.
On June 2, security forces forcibly dispersed a student demonstration; seven students were arrested and later released without being charged. On August 11 and 18, security forces used tear gas and truncheons to forcibly disperse opposition party demonstrators protesting the August 3 imprisonment of opposition CAR President Yawovi Agboyibo; several demonstrators were arrested and later released without being charged.
Members of the security forces detained human rights monitors and activists.
The status of UFC activist Abevi Abbey, detained by security forces in 1999 for distributing leaflets that urged the public to participate in UFC-sponsored Independence Day demonstrations, remains unknown. A domestic NGO believed that he had been released.
The Constitution prohibits exile, and the Government respected this prohibition; however, several opposition and human rights workers remained in self-imposed exile because they feared arrest. For example, in March 2000, several student opposition leaders were sentenced to 18-month jail terms for allegedly inciting riots while they were on the campus of the University of Benin. Some students fled into self-imposed exile in Ghana before they could be arrested; at year's end 2001, some students remained in Ghana out of fear of arrest if they returned to the country.
Togo has a French-based court system.
The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary; however, in practice the executive branch continued to exert control over the judiciary. A majority of the members of the Supreme Council for the Magistrature are supporters of President Eyadema. Judges who belong to the pro-Eyadema Professional Association of Togo Magistrates (APMT) reportedly receive the most prestigious assignments, while judges who advocated an independent judiciary and belong to the National Association of Magistrates (ANM) were marginalized.
The Constitutional Court stands at the apex of the court system. The civil judiciary system includes the Supreme Court, Sessions (Court of Assizes), and Appeals Courts. A military tribunal exists for crimes committed by security forces, but its proceedings are closed. Former Interior Minister General Seyi Memene serves as Justice Minister.
The court system remained overburdened and understaffed. Magistrates, like most government employees, are not always paid on time. The judicial system employs both traditional law as well as the Napoleonic Code in trying criminal and civil cases. Trials are open to the public, and judicial procedures generally are 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.
Opposition figures were imprisoned for the expression of political opinions, and frequently denied a fair trial. On April 21 in Kara, Yawovi Jules Kpizia, a representative of the opposition CAR political party, was arrested for defamation of the President's son Lieutenant Colonel Ernest Gnassingbe. Kpizia reportedly complained publicly of Gnassingbe's intervention in a civil dispute. He was convicted and sentenced to 3 months in prison.
On May 23, Lucien Messan, editor of Combat du Peuple, an opposition weekly, was arrested for fraud. The Government accused Messan of misrepresenting himself as the director of his newspaper when he signed an opposition declaration in April. In fact Messan's son is the director and Messan is the editor. After a short trial, Messan was convicted and sentenced to 1 year in prison and 6 months probation. The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders group described the jailing of Messan as politically motivated and called for his immediate release; in November Messan was pardoned by the President and released from prison.
On June 6, Harry Olympio, former Human Rights Minister and opposition RSDD president, was arrested for the production and possession of explosives. Minister of Interior General Sizing Walla accused Olympio of plotting a coup. After a seriously flawed trial, Olympio was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in prison and fined $500 (360,000 CFA francs). The sole prosecution witness, allegedly hired by Olympio to produce explosives, claimed to have been paid by Olympio in Lome on a date when Olympio, in fact, was in Cote d'Ivoire. His passport was presented as evidence of this discrepancy, but was never taken into account by the judge. There were additional conflicting points in the witness' statements. This witness also was tried for his role in the supposed coup plotting and was sentenced to 1-year probation.
On August 3, Yawovi Agboyibo, president of the opposition CAR political party, was convicted of defaming Prime Minister Agbeyome Kodjo. Agboyibo accused Kodjo, then director of the Lome Port, of organizing armed gangs in Yoto Prefecture during the 1998 presidential elections who killed Kofi Mathieu Kegbe, a CAR party official. The U.N./OAU Commission of Inquiry that visited the country in November 2000 echoed these accusations. After a brief trial, the magistrate--a high-ranking member of the ruling RPT Party--sentenced Agboyibo to 6 months in prison and fined him $135 (100,000 CFA francs). The International Federation on Human Rights (FIDH) called the ruling arbitrary. The trial was flawed. There were serious irregularities including a disregard for proper judicial procedure. Agboyibo's lawyers had requested that the judge recuse himself or be replaced due to the possibility of political bias. The judge refused to recuse himself, and the Court of Appeals declined to replace him. Agboyibo filed an appeal, which was pending at year's end 2001. However, in September a government prosecutor accused Agboyibo of complicity in Kegbe's death, which Agboyibo had accused Kodjo of instigating. At year's end 2001, Agboyibo remained in prison, and the case still was under investigation.
As of year 2001, prison conditions reportedly remained very harsh, with serious overcrowding, poor sanitation, and unhealthy food. Lome's central prison, built for 350 prisoners, reportedly housed 1,500 inmates or more during the year 2001. Medical facilities are inadequate, and disease and drug abuse are widespread. Prison guards in the overcrowded civil prison of Lome charge prisoners a small fee to shower, use the toilet, or have a place to sleep. Sick prisoners reportedly have to pay $2 (1,500 CFA francs) to guards before being allowed to visit the infirmary. The children of convicted adults often are incarcerated with the female inmates, who are housed separately from the male prisoners. Juvenile prisoners are held separately from adults. Political prisoners and pretrial detainees are not held separately from convicted prisoners.
In 2000 a local NGO, the African Center for Democracy, Human Rights, and Protection of Detainees (CADEPROD), began to conduct a census of civilian prisons funded by a foreign government; however, the project was discontinued during the year 2001 due to management problems.
Although some international and local private organizations have access to prisons for monitoring purposes, the International Committee of the Red Cross did not request a visit during the year 2001. In 2000 the LTDH sponsored a seminar on torture, which was attended by gendarmes, prison guards, and magistrates; however, there was no change in the treatment of prisoners following the seminar.
Domestic violence against women continues to be a problem. Although mechanisms for redress exist within both the traditional extended family and formal judicial structures, the police rarely intervene in domestic violence cases. Wife beating has been estimated to affect approximately 10 percent of married women.
Female genital mutilation (FGM), which is condemned widely by international health experts as damaging to both physical and psychological health, continues to be practiced. The most commonly practiced form of FGM is excision, which usually is performed on girls a few months after birth. A 1995 survey concluded that approximately 12 percent of all girls and women have undergone FGM; it is practiced by Christians and practitioners of traditional indigenous religions, and it is prevalent in Muslim communities. Most of the larger ethnic groups do not practice FGM. However, among the practicing groups rates range from 40 to 98 percent.
In theory women and girls are protected from FGM by the Constitution, and the law prohibits the practice with penalties for practitioners ranging from 2 months to 5 years imprisonment as well as substantial fines. The first trial under the law took place in 1998. Both the father of the victim and the practitioner were found guilty in 2000, sentenced to 1 year in prison and fined $175 (100,000 CFA francs). Both were released after serving 2 months in jail. The law rarely is applied because most FGM cases occur in rural areas where neither the victims nor police know the law. Traditional customs often supersede the legal systems among certain ethnic groups.
The Government continued to sponsor seminars to educate and campaign against FGM. Several NGO's, with international assistance, organized educational campaigns to inform women of their rights and how to care for the victims of FGM.
There was some trafficking in young women for the purpose of prostitution or for labor as domestic servants.
Although the Constitution and family code laws provide for the protection of children's rights, in practice government programs often suffer from a lack of money, materials, and enforcement. Although the law protects children, there are many practices that demonstrate a pattern of discrimination against children, especially girls. The Government provides free education in state schools. School attendance is compulsory for both boys and girls until the age of 15. Approximately 61 percent of children aged 6 to 15 years attend school, mostly boys. In the age group of 6 to 15 years, approximately 89 percent of boys and 66 percent of girls start primary school; however, only an estimated 39 percent of boys and 13 percent of girls reach secondary school. Approximately 3 percent of boys and 0.6 percent of girls reach the university level. Literacy rates are 57 percent for adult men and 31 percent for adult women. An estimated one-third of the national budget is spent on education.
Orphans and other needy children receive some aid from extended families or private organizations but less from the State. There are social programs to provide free health care for poor children. There are few juvenile courts, and children are jailed with adults. In rural areas, traditionally the best food is reserved for adults, principally the father.
In November traditional chiefs met and agreed to set up watchdog committees and conduct awareness campaigns against the abuse of children, especially trafficking, confinement in voodoo shrines, FGM, torture, forced marriages, and other forms of sexual harassment.
FGM is performed on approximately 12 percent of girls.
There were reports that young girls were trafficked from the country to Nigeria for prostitution. There also are confirmed reports of trafficking in children, particularly girls, for the purpose of labor, which amounts at times to slavery.
Child labor is a problem.
TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS
The law does not prohibit specifically trafficking in persons, although other statutes against kidnaping, procuring, and other crimes linked to trafficking were used to prosecute traffickers, and trafficking was a problem. The country remained a country of origin and transit point for trafficking in persons, primarily children. The country was a transit point for children trafficked from Burkina Faso, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, and Nigeria. Trafficking in women for the purpose of prostitution or nonconsensual labor as domestic servants exists. There were 83 victims returned to the country during the year 2001.
The majority of the country's trafficking victims are children from the poorest rural areas, particularly those of Cotocoli, Tchamba, Ewe, Kabye, and Akposso ethnicities and mainly from the Maritime, Plateau, and Central Regions. Adult victims usually are lured with phony lucrative jobs. Children usually are approached by friends or friends of their families. Sometimes parents sell their children to traffickers for bicycles, radios, or clothing, and authorize the transfer of their children.
Children were trafficked to indentured and exploitative servitude, which amounted at times to slavery. Victims were trafficked from rural areas of the Maritime, Plateau, and Central regions of the country to Cote d'Ivoire, Gabon, Nigeria, Europe (primarily France and Germany), and the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Children often were trafficked to other West and Central African countries, especially Gabon and Nigeria, to the Middle East, or to Asia. Children were trafficked to Benin for indentured servitude and to Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana for domestic servitude. Boys were trafficked for agricultural work in Cote d'Ivoire and domestic servitude and street labor in Gabon. They were fed poorly, crudely clothed, and inadequately cared for, and were neither educated nor permitted to learn a trade. Children sometimes were trafficked abroad by parents misled into allowing them to depart under false pretenses.
There were reports that young girls were trafficked from the country to Nigeria for prostitution.
According to the Government, in early March, approximately 700 children drowned in two separate incidents, when the boats trafficking them from Nigeria to Gabon capsized. At least half of the children were Togolese; five Togolese children survived and were repatriated. According to their accounts, most Togolese victims came from the country's central region.
In March a Nigerian-registered ship, the MV Etireno, sailed from Cotonou, Benin; according to the international press, it carried as many as 250 children trafficked from West Africa to work as laborers and domestic servants in Gabon. In April the ship arrived at the port of Owendo in Libreville, Gabon, and was turned away by Gabonese authorities, who suspected that illegal immigrants were aboard. On April 17, the ship returned to Benin after approximately 2 weeks at sea. International organizations and their embassies assisted the 23 children found aboard, including 8 from Togo.
On May 11, seven young girls were repatriated by the International Catholic Children's Bureau from Gabon, where they had worked since 1999.
On June 12, security forces intercepted 10 children in the process of being trafficked to Benin and Cote d'Ivoire and arrested 2 Nigerian traffickers, who were extradited to Nigeria.
On July 27, the radio station Nana FM reported that four Togolese children, allegedly serving as slaves in Cote d'Ivoire, were repatriated.
On August 29, a motorized canoe trafficking 131 West African children from Nigeria to Gabon capsized off the coast of Cameroon; 68 Togolese children between the ages of 6 and 15 were on board. The Ministry of Social Affairs repatriated the children.
There were credible reports that Nigerian women and children were trafficked through the country to Europe (particularly Italy and the Netherlands) for the purpose of prostitution.
One woman, who returned from Gabon after 5 years as a victim of trafficking, filed a suit in 2000 against a Gabonese schoolteacher living in the country, who she accused of trafficking in children to work in Gabon; however, by year's end, there was no progress in the case.
Traffickers are believed to be men and women of Togolese, Beninese, and Nigerian nationalities.
The Government has little or no funding to investigate traffickers or trafficking rings. The Government claimed to have arrested or detained 10 traffickers during the year 2001. The Government also reported that it detained briefly 55 parents of the children stranded in Cameroon when the boat that was trafficking them to Gabon capsized. Most persons arrested or detained by security forces for alleged trafficking ultimately were released for lack of evidence. However, as of March, the Government had prosecuted 50 cases against individual traffickers. These resulted in 51 convictions, which included prison sentences of 6 years, 4 years, 12 months, 8 months, 6 months, and deferred or amicable out-of-court settlements.
Government agencies involved in antitrafficking efforts include the Ministry of Social Affairs and Protection and Promotion for Family and Children, the Ministry of the Interior and Security, the Ministry of Justice, and security forces (especially police, army, and customs units. The Government cooperates with the Governments of Ghana, Benin, and Nigeria under a Quadripartite Law allowing for expedited extradition among those countries.
The police have had limited success in intercepting victims of trafficking, but prosecution of traffickers was rare. During the year 2001, the Government intercepted 377 children, and arrested 10 traffickers, compared to 750 intercepted children and 21 arrested traffickers at the borders in 1999.
The Government provides limited assistance for victims. Terre des Hommes, an NGO, assisted recovered children until their parents or next-of-kin could be notified. There also was a government-funded Social Center for Abandoned Children. During the year 2001, the ILO-sponsored IPEC program conducted a study of trafficking in persons in Togo and West Africa. At year's end 2001, the program was entering its second phase, which will involve funding individual projects to combat trafficking in persons. During the year 2001, the World Bank started to implement of an education program for domestic servants and persons at risk of being trafficked to become domestic servants.
During the year 2001, the Government conducted public awareness campaigns, with the help of the UNICEF and NGO's such as WAO-Afrique. WAO-Afrique obtained additional funding from a private foreign company to support its awareness campaigns against child trafficking and forced labor, which the Government supported.
Togo has suffered form its proximity to Nigeria, and has become a significant alternative trafficking route for narcotics headed for Europe and the U.S. The government of Togo's response to Togo's growing role in narcotics trafficking has been inadequate. Scarce resources are part of the problem, but the failure to respond adequately is also linked to corruption and misplaced priorities. There was some progress on the legal front during 1998. The government passed a strict anti-drug law with strong penalties for users, facilitators, and transporters. The law also imposes large fines for violators, but more vigorous enforcement will be the key to success. Excellent model laws, imported from abroad, are not enough. Some newspapers and other local media aided drug education efforts with informative articles and discussions of the dangers of drug abuse.
Togo is not a major drug producing country, but Togo is increasingly an alternative trafficking route to the U.S. and Europe. Air courier shipments are one important smuggling method, but Togo's sea and air ports are also used by traffickers. Methods include secreting shipments in bulk cargo and containers as well as using human couriers. However, we have no evidence that such drugs are reaching the U.S. in sufficient quantities to significantly affect this country. As noted above, at least part of the reason for Togo's inadequate response to this problem is inadequate resources. However, to attract training and equipment support, Togo will need to convince prospective donors that it wants to do a good job, and that the basic organization and management of its enforcement forces offer reasonable prospects of success.
Traffickers know that Togo's borders are permeable, and that border controls are only undertaken at the main designated border crossing areas. Their response is to avoid those areas when narcotics are smuggled through Togo. There have been rumors and reports about money laundering, but money laundering is unlikely to be a major issue in Togo, given the alternatives available to sophisticated trafficking groups.
Internet research assisted by Marisha Mayo