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[Press Release] Togo must make torture a criminal offence under its Penal Code

February 2012

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Paris, 10 February 2012

In Togo, the current Penal Code contains no provisions explicitly defining or criminalising torture. If torture is not classified as an offence under criminal law, many acts of torture and mistreatment can only be prosecuted as ‘deliberate acts of violence’; sentencing therefore does not take account of the particularly serious nature of torture or act as a deterrent.

Acts of torture are often carried out in Togo, particularly by the security forces. Although some cases have been prosecuted in the courts as ‘deliberate acts of violence’, such prosecution is extremely rare and the sentences imposed are often inadequate. Nevertheless, on 18 November 1987, Togo ratified the United Nations Convention Against Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Article 4 of the Convention provides that ‘Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law’.

Because of the resurgence of torture in Togo and the impunity that protects it, human rights organisations in Togo, including ACAT Togo, have come together to organise a peaceful march in Lomé on 11 February 2012, calling in particular for:

- an end to acts of torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment perpetrated by the security forces;

- publication without delay of the report by the National Human Rights Commission on acts of torture carried out by the National Intelligence Agency. This report was due to be made public by 27 January 2012.

FIACAT supports the organisation of this peaceful protest march and wishes to point out to the Togolese authorities that torture is prohibited absolutely under international law. Whatever the circumstances, nobody may be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

On the occasion of this march, FIACAT calls on Togo, as a State Party to the United Nations Convention Against Torture, to make torture a crime under its criminal law as soon as possible.

FIACAT also calls on the Togolese authorities to ensure the safety of human rights defenders in Togo.

Press contact:
- Guillaume Colin – +33 (0)1 42 80 01 60 – g.colin@fiacat.org

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