HRC50: Togo must take concrete legal steps to ensure the protection of civil society and defenders

At the 50th session of the Human Rights Council, Togo underwent its 3rd Universal Periodic Review (UPR). While the government showed a willingness to promote some of the rights necessary to enable the work of human rights defenders, large structural and legal efforts are still needed to improve the situation overall.

On 30 June, Togo’s Minister for Human Rights, Citizenship Training and Relations with Institutions of the Republic, Christian Eninam Trimua presented the report on the outcome of its UPR. Togo decided to adopt 182 of the 224 recommendations they received. Among those recommendations, some are important for the rights of defenders such as  creating a safe working environment, particularly for women defenders, and to allow for the legal registration of organisations protecting the rights of LGBTI persons.

However, in a joint statement, ISHR and the Coalition Togolaise des Défenseurs des Droits Humains (CTDDH), expressed their concerns regarding the treatment of human rights defenders  including journalists and stated that “since 2019, there has been an increase in the adoption of legislation and regulations aimed at restricting the work of civil society”. 

To change this situation, the joint statement called on Togo to: 

  • Adopt the draft law for the protection of defenders initially submitted by civil society in 2019 and in accordance with the 1998 UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders
  • Repeal all laws restricting public freedoms and the rights of defenders in Togo, including the new law on freedom of assembly and peaceful public demonstrations, in accordance with the request of the United Nations Special Procedures

Concerns were also raised about the arbitrary detentions of citizens such as Kpatcha Gnassingbé, Dontema Kokou and Atti Abi, who were arrested while exercising their rights of peaceful protests and freedom of expression. Thus, taking into account all those remarks and to ensure that real progress is being made after the adoption of this UPR, the Togolese government should submit to the Council a mid-term report on the advances made.

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