IFJ denounces the adoption of a new law threatening freedom of expression in Togo

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) denounced today the vote on Friday October 30, 2009 by the National Assembly of a legislation reinforcing  the powers  of the High Authority of Audio-visual and Communication (HAAC) and which seriously threatens press freedom and freedom of expression in Togo.

“This new law is   a serious setback for democracy in Togo, because its only objective is to muzzle the private media in this country” declared Gabriel Baglo Director of IFJ Africa Office. “This new law is inappropriate in the current context as it does not conform to internationally recognized standards” he added.

The Togo Union of the Independent Journalists (UJIT), IFJ affiliate, the Togolese Observatory of Media (OTM), the National Association of media owners of Togo (CONAPP), and the Journalists for Human rights (JDHO-Togo) learned with consternation, on October 30, 2009, the vote by the National Assembly of a bill amending the legislation of December 15, 2004 relating to the High Authority of Audio-visual and Communication (HAAC).

According to a joint statement published by these organizations, the new law  provides that the High Authority, after an injunction is made public, can, inter alia, proceed to the “final withdrawal of the authorization with seizure of the equipment” and to the “suspension for six (6) months of the publication with withdrawal of the press card”. The most appalling according to the statement, is that this law gives prerogative to the HAAC “to organize hearings of media professionals on serious errors”.  According to these organizations, this is an attempt   to muzzle the private press before the 2010 presidential elections in Togo.

IFJ calls on the Togolese authorities to build relationship with the media and calls for dialogue with the trade unions and associations of journalists in order to review this law and allow the journalists to work without fear or intimidation.

For more information contact the IFJ at +221 33 867 95 87
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 123 countries worldwide