Paris, 23 April 2012 – The International Federation of ACATs (FIACAT) and ACAT Togo are deeply concerned by the intimidation that human rights defenders in Togo are being subjected to, especially the Chairman of ACAT Togo, Mr. Jil-Benoît Kossi AFANGBEDJI.
Mr. Jil-Benoit Kossi AFANGBEDJI was speaking on the panel of the LCF television show “Forum de la presse” on Friday, 20 April 2012, when the show’s broadcast was interrupted and immediately replaced by a film, without any reason being given. At around 8.30 p.m. that evening, two individuals pulled up outside Mr. AFANGBEDJI’s office in an unlicensed vehicle with tinted windows and asked the clerk if they could speak with him. The clerk told them that the office was closed and that Mr. AFANGBEDJI would be at home. The two individuals then asked him to accompany them there. When the clerk said that he didn’t know the address, they threatened him, saying: “We’re going to look for him, and if we don’t find him we’re coming back for you”.
Mr. AFANGBEDJI is the second human rights defender and member of the “Sauvons le Togo” (Let’s Save Togo) organization to have suffered intimidation after speaking on behalf of that organization since 15 April 2012. For FIACAT, the role of civil society is essential in the transition to the rule of law, where the rights of every person are respected and where impunity has no place. Togolese civil society should be able to freely engage in activities in order to play a leading role in this transition.
FIACAT and ACAT Togo recall that under article 12, paragraph 2 of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 9 December 1998: “The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”.
On that basis, FIACAT and ACAT Togo demand that the Togolese authorities take all necessary measures to ensure the physical and psychological integrity of all human rights defenders in Togo with no exception, notably Mr. Jil-Benoît Kossi AFANGBEDJI, and put an end to all forms of threats and intimidation.
Sabrina Aït-Aoudia : +331 42 80 01 60 – firstname.lastname@example.org