Freedom in the World

Freedom in the World 2017

Togo

Profile

Freedom Status: 
Partly Free
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Freedom in the World Scores

(0=Least Free, 100=Most Free)
(1=Most Free, 7=Least Free)

Quick Facts

Population: 
7,500,000
Capital: 
Lomé
GDP/capita: 
$560
Press Freedom Status: 
Partly Free
Overview: 

Togo has held regular multiparty elections since the current constitution was adopted in 1992. However, the country’s politics have been dominated since 1963 by Gnassingbé Eyadéma and his son, the current president, Faure Gnassingbé. Advantages including a security service dominated by the president’s ethnic group, disproportionately drawn election districts, and a fractured opposition have helped President Gnassingbé and his party hold on to power. However, recently the legislature has passed laws to promote good governance and human rights in response to domestic and international pressure. While political violence scarred Togo between 1958 and 2005, it has been rare in recent years.

Key Developments in 2016: 
  • In UN-backed meetings held in December, the government met with opposition representatives to discuss plans to hold local elections, though no date was set. The country has not held local elections since 1986.
  • In March, the National Assembly approved a freedom of information law.
  • Also in March, the National Assembly adopted a law establishing a mechanism within the National Human Rights Commission to prevent torture, but the new body’s independence was questioned.
Executive Summary: 

In 2016, opposition parties and international donors continued to call for the restoration of presidential term limits, which were eliminated in 2002, and the organization of local elections, which have not been held since 1986, in violation of the 1992 constitution; local officials are instead appointed by the president. In March, the government agreed to began public consultations in preparation for local elections, and in December, government and opposition representatives participated in UN-backed meetings in preparation for local polls. The opposition called for the polls to be held in 2017, but the government has stated a preference that they be conducted the following year to make time for adequate preparations.

The National Assembly continued to pass laws to promote good governance and human rights in response to domestic and international demands, but the enforcement bodies often lack independence. For example, the National Assembly adopted a law to establish a mechanism within the National Human Rights Commission to prevent torture, but the measure allows the president to appoint the new body’s members without parliamentary approval.

Separately, a freedom of information law was approved in March, though it contains exemptions for some kinds of information, including that deemed relevant to national security.

Opposition leaders boycotted the country’s official independence celebration in April, in protest of the omission of opposition figures from the independent electoral commission, the ongoing failure to hold local elections, and the failure of Togo’s Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) to adequately address past violence committed by members of Gnassingbé’s Union for the Republic (UNIR) and its supporters.

Aggregate Score: 
48
Freedom Rating: 
4.0
Political Rights: 
4
Civil Liberties: 
4

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Togo

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