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[Press Release] Excessive use of force and intimidation in Togo

April 2013

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Geneva – Lomé, 19 April 2013 – FIACAT and ACAT Togo condemn the disproportionate use of force by the Togolese armed forces during the suppression of a peaceful demonstration in Dapaong on 15 April 2013. A twelve-year-old student, Anselme Gouyano Sinandare, was killed and another, 22-year-old Sinalengue Douti, died as a result of his injuries. FIACAT and ACAT Togo also condemn the death threats received by some leaders of Synergie des travailleurs du Togo (Togolese Workers Synergy).

On 15 April 2013 in Dapaong, in the north of Togo, a strike by civil servants in which health and education professionals had taken an active part saw the deaths of two people. The two students died during the demonstration led by students in support of their teachers, who were demanding better working conditions and a salary increase. The younger student, Anselme Gouyano Sinandare , a twelve-year-old grade 6 pupil, was killed by warning shots fired by the police, who were attempting, according to state television, ‘to disperse the protest.’ A second student, twenty- two-year-old Sinalengue Douti, died of his injuries 48 hours later.

FIACAT and ACAT Togo condemn this disproportionate use of force by agents of the state which resulted in the deaths of two students, including a minor.

In November 2012, Togo made a series of commitments to respect human rights during the 49th session of the United Nations Committee against Torture (CAT). The Committee’s experts also recommended that the Togolese Government, ‘implement training programmes and develop teaching modules regarding human rights for (…) security personnel such as police officers, gendarmes, regional guards, investigating officers and prison officers.’

Togo must likewise, ‘bring to an end impunity for those who have committed acts of torture, by opening credible, prompt and impartial investigations into all allegations of acts of torture or ill treatment carried out by security service officers.’

The events in Dapaong highlight once again the need for human rights training for the security forces.

Furthermore, death threats have been received by five leaders of the national organisation ‘Synergie des travailleurs du Togo’ (Togolese Workers Synergy or STT): Mrs Nadou Lawson-Olounkoule, Dr Atchi Walla, Dr Gilbert Senyo Tsolenyanu, Mr Abalo Aketa and Mr Kalaha Sodja.

For example, on 10 April intelligence officers visited the Centre hospitalier universitaire Sylvanus Olympio in Lomé looking for Dr Gilbert Senyo Tsolenyanu and Dr Atchi Walla, although they did not give any reason for the search. Dr Walla’s employers were advised to, ‘look after him.’

Two days later, two vehicles without licence plates positioned themselves opposite Dr Atchi Walla’s home. The cars followed Dr Atchi’s cousin, mistaking him for the doctor. The occupants of the vehicles approached Dr Atchi’s cousin and interrogated him, claiming to be members of the intelligence service. The authorities subsequently denied any involvement with this event.

FIACAT and ACAT Togo urge the Togolese Government to make every effort to shed light on this matter, and in particular:
- to ensure that an immediate, independent, impartial enquiry be carried out into the two above-mentioned events;
- to punish those responsible for these human rights violations;
- to improve human rights training for members of the security forces, in particular regarding the use of force.

In addition, FIACAT and ACAT Togo request that the Togolese Government acts on the commitments it made before the United Nations Committee against Torture in November 2012 as quickly as possible.

Press contact:
- FIACAT: Lionel Grassy – l.grassy@fiacat.org – +41 787 499 328
- ACAT Togo: Pierre-Claver Dekpoh – acattogo@yahoo.fr - +228 22229699 / 90056493

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