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Heavy prison sentences for HRDs

Association

On 16th January 2019, the correctional court of Lomé sentenced activist and youth leader Folly Satchivi, of the movement En aucun cas, to a prison sentence of 36 months, of which 12 months suspended. He was found guilty of the charges of 'public defense of crimes and offenses'  and 'aggravated disturbance of public order' under articles 552-1 and 495-3 of the Penal Code, but was not found guilty of 'rebellion'. As reported previously on the Monitor, Satchivi was arrested on 22nd August 2018 while on his way the offices of an NGO in Bè-Gakpoto in Lomé where he was to hold a press conference, deemed 'illegal' by authorities. 

Previously on 12th December 2018, HRD Assiba Johnson, president of CSO Regroupement des Jeunes Africains pour la Démocratie et le Développement (REJADD - Group of Young Africans for Democracy and Development) was sentenced to 18 months in prison, of which 6 months suspended, for 'spreading of false news' and 'insult of public authorities'. As reported in a previous Monitor update, Intelligence and Investigation Service (IRS) arrested Assiba Johnson on 4th April 2018 following the publication of a report, in collaboration with the organisation Réseau africain pour les initiatives de droits de l’homme et de solidarité (RAIDHS - African Network for Initiatives on Human Rights and Solidarity), detailing the repression of protests in Togo between August 2017 and January 2018. 

Two other HRDs of the movement Nubueke, Messenth Kokodoko and Joseph Eza, were released on 31st January 2019 due to a presidential pardon, as decided during a Council of Minister meeting. Both had been in preventive detention since their arrest on 17th and 19th October 2017 respectively, in relation to their participation in protests. 

Peaceful Assembly

Legislative elections on 20th December 2018, boycotted by the coalition of 14 opposition parties (C-14), resulted in 59 of 91 National Assembly seats won by the ruling political party of President Fauré Gnassingbe, the Union pour la République (UNIR; Union for the Republic). The elections were preceded by calls by opposition parties, religious groups and civil society organisations to halt or delay the elections until constitutional and institutional reforms were implemented, while several people died during opposition protests in early December as reported previously on the Monitor. 

On 26th January 2019, the coalition of 14 opposition parties (C-14) protested in Togo's capital Lomé, and other cities such as Ataktamé, Mango and Sokodé to denounce what they call an 'electoral coup'. In Lomé, protesters wore placards such as '50 years of bloody dictatorship must finish'. President of the opposition party Alliance nationale pour le changement (ANC; National Alliance for Change) Jean Pierre Fabre commented to the press that the mobilisation was lower than in previous protests due to 'intimidations with the mobilization of security forces and soldiers everywhere'. No incidents were reported.