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.

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.

'Do you know who I am?'

A lieutenant colonel in the French army has been caught on camera menacing a Togolese journalist after the man took photographs of him admonishing youths. Romuald Letondo also threatened to smash Didier Ledoux’s camera.

Unfortunately for Letondot, the whole incident, including the rather pompous question “Do you know who I am?” was caught on video and has been posted on YouTube. The officer’s actions, unacceptable even back when Togo was a French colony, have drawn widespread condemnation from both the African media and French officials. Letondot was forced to apologise directly to Ledoux.

Letondot claims that he had been worried that the photos would be misinterpreted. Luckily the video clears up the affair. Fun starts at 50 seconds.

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.