Togo-Amnesty International calls for authorization of demonstrations

Two years after the introduction of the first restrictions on the right to peaceful assembly justified by the Covid-19 pandemic, and while no more patients are in the care structures according to the authorities, Amnesty International Togo calls on the latter to lift the ban on gatherings of more than 15 people and therefore authorize demonstrations.

This ban remains even though the government welcomed on March 8 that there are “no Covid-19 patients in treatment centers”, and announced on February 22 in a press release the relaxation certain measures, such as the reopening of places of worship and the resumption of all sporting activities upon presentation of proof of vaccination, given the “drop in the rate of contamination since February 1”.

According to Fabien Offner, researcher on West Africa at Amnesty International, “the maintenance of obstacles to demonstrations without any time limit, while less restrictive measures affect other forms of gatherings, demonstrates that this measure does not is no longer a necessary and proportionate restriction for the protection of public health. This measure seriously compromises the right to freedom of peaceful assembly,” he said.

According to him, nothing today justifies the maintenance of drastic restrictions on the freedom to assemble, in particular for political reasons.

“In view of the newfound possibility of resuming sporting, cultural and social activities, nothing can now justify the maintenance of drastic restrictions on the freedom to assemble, in particular for political or social reasons, except a deliberate desire to hamper freedom of expression. The Togolese authorities must lift this ban,” he added.

As a reminder, the Togolese government had adopted on March 16, 2020 the ban on all gatherings of more than 100 people for one month, before tightening this measure on July 3, 2020 by the adoption of an ordinance prohibiting any gathering other than professional more than 15 people on the public highway or in a public place.

The state of emergency is also in force until September 2022 after the National Assembly renewed it for one year in September 2021. This persistent restriction of the right to demonstrate applies in a more general context of restriction of freedom of expression.

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