Since 28 November 2020, the West African Regional Coordinator of Women, Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF/FeDDAF-AO), Mrs. Kafui ADJAMAGBO-JOHNSON, has been detained at the Central Criminal Research and Investigation Service (SCRIC).The coordinator of the Dynamique Monseigneur Kpodrzo (DMK), a network of opposition parties and civil society organisations in Togo, was charged only 155 hours after being in police custody. Furthermore, the DMK's Social Affairs and Human Rights Officer, Mr. Gerard Yaovi Djossou, was detained on 27 November for 192 hours before being charged. The Togolese justice system is prosecuting them for criminal conspiracy and undermining the internal security of the state.
The members of DMK were arrested as their platform was about to hold a major protest in Lomé to decry the results of the February 2020 presidential election and the judicial harassment against opposition members.
It should be noted that Article 14 of the Togolese Constitution guarantees that rights and freedoms "may only be subject to restrictions when expressly provided for by law and necessary for the protection of national security, public order, public health, morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others" .
It can be recalled that authoritarian abuses in Togo are not new and the situation is worsening by the day. In January 2019, the Lomé court sentenced a young activist named Folly Satchivi to 36 months including 12 months suspended jail term. He was prosecuted for "disruption of public order and advocating crime and misdemeanours". The 23-year-old, who also leads the "En aucun cas" movement, was arrested on 22 August 2018, when he tried to organise a press conference deemed "illegal". He first was dragged before the judiciary in June 2017 and convicted to 12-month suspended prison sentence over demonstrations on the Lome university campus.
The decline of democracy has been notorious in Togo in this decade. Hiding behind security reasons, there have been strong restrictions on public demonstrations. Two laws were passed in 2019 banning demonstrations in some areas and avenues mainly in the capital city. As a result, peaceful meetings or demonstrations on the public highway and in public places must no longer be held before 11:00 am and after 6:00 pm.
AfricTivistes strongly condemns this decline in democracy and these violations of fundamental rights and freedoms in Togo. We further condemn the arrest of Mrs. Kafui ADJAMAGBO-JOHNSON. We believe that the Togolese government is seriously mistaken in associating Mrs. Kafui ADJAMAGBO-JOHNSON, who is also the regional coordinator for West Africa of Women, Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF/FeDDAF-AO), with a group of criminals.
AfricTivistes believes that President Faure Gnassingbé has long since declared war on civil society in his country. Indeed, nothing can justify this bullying of human rights defenders and in particular this woman of honour who heads a women's rights organisation and who has always fought for noble causes.
AfricTivistes would like to remind the Togolese authorities of the need to respect the undeniable rights of their people and to end this series of decisions that violate the Togolese constitution and the fundamental charters for the protection of human rights.
AfricTivistes is observing more and more authoritarian excesses on the part of Faure Gnassingbé's regime. We believe that Gnassingbe must come back to his senses and ensure that fundamental rights and freedoms are respected.
AfricTivistes denounces this manipulation of the judiciary to stifle the commitment of Mrs. Kafui ADJAMAGBO-JOHNSON, whose sole aim has always been the search for social justice and shared prosperity for Togo.
AfricTivistes is asking the public prosecutor to dismiss the case as baseless because it is likely to undermine the institutions of the Republic or to profile a group of citizens as criminals.
AfricTivistes urges the Togolese government to review the laws and regulations that restrict freedom of demonstration and freedom of expression.
AfricTivistes renews its request to the international community to pay closer attention to the level of democracy in Togo and the abuses of the Faure Gnassingbé regime.
AfricTivistes urges African and international civil society organisations to work together for the restoration of rights and freedoms in Togo.