The Committee Against Torture held its 36th session in Geneva, from 1 to 19 May 2006.
State, in which an ACAT exist, that had to submit a report on the application of the Convention against Torture was :
The examination by the UN Committee Against Torture of the initial report of Togo took place the 10th and 11th May 2006.
FIACAT wrote a Counter report to the initial report of Togo.
FIACAT presented its report on 9th May 2006 and represented ACAT Togo during this session.
1. Defining the ban on torture and ill-treatment in domestic law
FIACAT considers that the definition of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment is necessary for the Convention to be applied within the country.
Currently, in Togo, the few penalties imposed on perpetrators of acts of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment are not commensurate with the seriousness of the crime committed. This constitutes a violation of the Convention.
The transposition in national law of the definition of Article 1 of the Convention would make it possible not only to prevent acts of torture, but also to punish such acts effectively.
Togo cannot therefore confine itself to prohibiting torture without defining clearly the acts that constitute torture, under the terms of Article 1 of the Convention.
Once a definition has been incorporated into national law, the acts constituting torture will be more easily identified by Togolese courts and thus more adequately punished, taking account of their specific nature and seriousness.
Togo must therefore stipulate in its national law the definition of the notion of acts of torture, taking into account their degree of seriousness and defining punishment accordingly.
2. Prevention of acts of torture in places of detention
In order to effectively prevent acts of torture in places of detention, Togo must ensure that the rights conferred by its own law on prisoners are actually enforced.
a. Every detainee should thus have the possibility of being examined by a doctor of his choice, and this as soon as he is taken into custody.
In Togo, however, although persons in custody may in theory be examined by a doctor, at their request or at the request of a member of their family (Article 53(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, such an examination must first be authorised by the Prosecutor’s office and their is no stipulation that the person in custody may choose the doctor, contrary to what is stated in Togo’s preliminary report (§122).
b. The lawyer should be present during questioning from the very fisrt moment of custody. However, the lawyer’s assistance as early as the preliminary investigation remains a constitutional provision the practical arrangements have never never been set out in the 1983 Code of Criminal Procedure or in any other relevant text.
As a result, this procedure which is important in terms of protecting human rights remains dependent on how sensitive the investigation is and, in some cases, the mood or degree of comprehension of the police officer in charge of the investigation.
c. Persons in custody should have their right to food, sleep and proper hygiene respected. However, the fact that prisoners are not granted this right is acknowledged explicitly by Togo in paragraphs 221-229 of its report.
d. The lack of training provided for personnel responsible for guarding persons in custody seriously undermines the prevention of torture.
Although the Togolese Government claims that some of the people in charge of detainees have received proper training, this training does not seem sufficient extensive or thorough.
This is clearly illustrated by the large number of torture cases consistently reported over the years.
In order to improve the effectiveness of such training, Togo must more systematically raise awareness among all persons required to work with people in custody or detention. This training should therefore be provided for lawyers, police personnel and judges responsible for handling cases.
Togo must guarantee the right of each detainee:
To be examined by the doctor of his choice as soon as he is taken into custody;
To be represented and assisted by the lawyer of his choice, and to be able to talk freely with his lawyer from the moment he is detained;
To proper food, sleep and hygiene. Togo should also improve its training for people in charge of detainees.
3. Combating impunity
According to a number of NGO reports based on many first-hand accounts, the acts of violence are inflicted mainly by law enforcement officials (police officers, gendarmes and military personnel) and RPT (ruling party) militiamen. Up to now, however, very few of these officials have been charged for such acts.
The failure to condemn such acts constitutes a serious breach of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
In order to put an end to this impunity, a proper legal procedure must be set up to facilitate action to prosecute such acts. Victims should not be afraid to lodge a complaint with the courts.
The people in charge of the case should have a good knowledge of the definition of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Proper training in the field of human rights and, more specifically, with regard to torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment is essential.
Togo must incorporate procedures in its national law to enable victims of torture to take legal action. These procedures should respect the conditions for independent and impartial justice.