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[Press Release] TOGO : Democratic elections to avoid past tragedies

février 2010

[français] [français]

Franciscans International (FI), the International Federation of Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (FIACAT) and Survie are concerned at the tension surrounding the run-up to the presidential elections on 28 February 2010. The Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) has apparently failed to revise the voter lists properly. This does little for the chances of the elections passing off without incident or dispute and could draw the country into violence and human rights violations.

Our organisations would point out that, under the Global Political Accord of 20 August 2006, all political actors have subscribed to the need for a voter census to establish a reliable electoral register resulting in democratic, fair and credible elections. A reliable electoral register alone can guarantee credible elections, ensure that the electorate is able to express its will freely and avoid the tragedies that have marred previous elections in Togo.

Elections have always been a breeding ground for massive human rights violations in Togo. The party in power’s flirtations with fraud, its interference in organising, monitoring and observing elections and in declaring the result, a CENI lacking independence and the use of ethnic divisions in statements to exacerbate social discord all serve to provoke anxiety and human rights violations.

To prevent the 28 February elections from going the same way as past polls, our organisations call on the Togolese Government to take all necessary steps to :

- guarantee equitable access for all candidates and political actors to the official media and to the whole of Togo throughout the electoral process ;

- ban all statements and conduct liable to incite violence, hostility, hatred or discrimination on grounds of race, religion or ethnicity ;

- guarantee before, during and after the elections the right to information and freedom of movement, thereby enabling journalists, national and international observers and human rights defenders to cover the entire electoral process without hindrance ;

- ensure that basic freedoms are not in any way restricted or suspended by exceptional circumstances liable to encourage human rights violations ;

- guarantee the security of property and persons before, during and after the elections by means of security arrangements designed especially to break up any militia or groups - officially sanctioned or otherwise - seeking to disrupt the electoral process ;

- comply with the provisions of the Electoral Code, Global Political Accord, national legislation and all other international obligations to which Togo is bound pursuant to ratified international human rights instruments.

Mindful of the bloody acts of violence which have marred previous elections, the CENI should :

-  ensure that calm prevails before, during and after the presidential elections through constructive cooperation with civil society and the political actors involved ;

- ensure that all national and international observers, without exception, are given accreditation, so as to guarantee transparent elections in accordance with the provisions of the Electoral Code and the Global Political Accord ;

-  see to it that security agents during the elections do not become agents of fear and fraud, as has happened in the past ;

- manage the electoral register in a transparent manner, thereby maintaining the trust of the Togolese people in their electoral bodies ;

- remain neutral and independent at all times in organising, supervising, regulating and overseeing the electoral process, and in declaring the result ;

- make information available to the Togolese people, so as to allay any suspicions that might arise and might well trigger violence, excesses or human rights abuses ;

- refrain from any statement or conduct which might undermine the electoral process, especially when the votes are counted and the result declared, and which might see the country descend once more into ethnic rivalries and human rights violations ;

- respect the choice of the electorate in declaring the result ;

- ensure that effective legal means of appeal are available, should the election result be contested.

Our organisations call on the international community - and in particular the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States, the European Union, the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner in Togo - to remain vigilant in observing the electoral process, so that human rights are respected and the declared result reflects the will expressed by the Togolese people at the ballot box.

Contacts :
- Franciscans International :
Tel. +41 22 919 40 10,
Guillaume Colin, Tel. +33 1 42 80 01 60,
- Survie :
Olivier Thimonier, Tel. +33 1 44 61 03 25,

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