National Assembly adopts law restricting peaceful assembly

Peaceful Assembly

On 7th August 2019, Togo’s National Assembly modified the law that regulates the conditions for the exercise of peaceful meetings and protests of 16th May 2011, restricting the freedom of peaceful assembly in Togo. The modifications include several time and place restrictions: protests are prohibited before 11AM and after 6 PM, and cannot take place on certain axes and zones, in particular all national roads, zones with heavy economic activities, urban centres, zones close to state institutions, areas close to the residences of ambassadors and representatives of international organisations, and areas close to military and security camps. In addition, competent authorities are given the discretion to limit the number of protests according to the availability of security forces. 

The government invoked security reasons to justify the restrictions. Togo's Minister of Territorial Administration, Payadowa Boukpessi, claimed that "the objective is to ensure a better framing of public peaceful protests in order to offer security to residents and especially to the protesters". 

The changes to the 2011 law was criticised. Spéro Mahoulé, president of the Collectif des Associations Contre l'Impunité au Togo (CACIT; Collective of Associations Against Impunity in Togo) commented to the media: 

“I think it will now be very difficult to obtain an authorisation. It has become a regime of authorisation for protests, and this is not a good thing for the democracy we want to build in our country” (translated from French)

As documented previously on the Monitor, Togo has been engulfed in a political crisis since 19th August 2017, when several people were killed during opposition protests which called for the return to the 1992 Constitution, limiting the amount of presidential mandates. Protests have been repressed and authorities have often banned protests, especially those organised by political opposition and civil society .