Togo: Police assault journalists, confiscate equipment

Two journalists filming an anti-government march in the Togolese capital Lomé were attacked by police last week. Freelance journalist Noël Kokou Tadegnon, who works for Reuters TV and pan-African satellite broadcaster Vox Africa was attacked by 10 police officers as he filmed security forces firing tear gas at protesters. The journalist was hit in the back of the head and his camera was seized while he was unconscious. Didier Alli, a reporter for the local TV station TV7, attempted to intervene in the attack on Tadegnon, but security forces attacked him, also seizing his camera.

Togolese journalists protest against radio station closures

Togolese journalists are preparing to campaign against the closure of three radio stations, Providence, Métropolys and X-Solaire.

Sit-ins outside government agencies and protest marches are planned. The private stations were closed by the Posts and Telecommunications Regulation Agency in November over an issue with their papers.

Subsequent attempts to obtain the necessary documentation have been unsuccessful.

Togo: Judge bans newspaper

A criminal court judge in Togo has moved to ban the distribution of Tribune d’Afrique, a bimonthly Benin newspaper, that had raised questions about the alleged involvement of a half-brother of President Faure Gnassingbé in drug trafficking. The ban was placed because of an article titled “Drug trafficking at top of the state, Togo in the network, Mey Gnassingbe fingered.” Togo-based editor Aurel Kedoté, reporter Cudjoe Amekudzi and chief executive officer Marlène de la Bardonnie have been fined and a  judge has ordered the newspaper to pay 60 million CFA francs.

On 25 August, President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé filed a separate defamation lawsuit against the Indépendant Express. The weekly newspaper published articles that the president has deemed insulting. President Gnassingbé demanded 100 million CFA (approx. US$200,000) in damages over the “enormous harm” to his reputation.

Togo bans French media

On the eve of this month’s presidential elections, the Togolese government refused to grant accreditation to French media outlets. Reporters without Borders criticised President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe after correspondents from Radio France, RTL and La Croix were refused access to the country in the build up to the disputed 4 March vote. Diplomatic relations between the France and Togo have been tense, Togo gained its independence from the European country in 1960.