Political Activist Sentenced for Supporting ‘Illegal’ Assemblies

A court in the Togolese capital, Lome, has sentenced the leader of political pressure group to two years’ imprisonment after pronouncing him guilty of aggravated public disorder and defending crime.

The verdict against Folly Satchivi, who heads the pressure group “En Aucun Cas,” was pronounced on January 16, 2019.

Satchivi was arrested in August 22, 2018 as part of the crackdown on dissent in the wake of the serial opposition and civil society demonstrations to demand the reform of Togo’s electoral laws. At the time of his arrest, he and his colleagues were in a meeting to plan a press conference that his organisation had already announced.

The activist, who has been in detention since his arrest, appeared in court on January 9, with prosecutors demanding four years’ imprisonment against him. The charges against Satchivi are related to his outspoken support for, and participation in street protests demanding for electoral reforms which the government said were illegal.

Lawyers for Satchivi said the prosecution failed to prove their allegations in court, and so, contrary to the ruling, they expected their client to be acquitted.

“In criminal cases, when the prosecutor does not provide evidence, the defendant must be released,” lawyer Celestin Agbogan said.

The MFWA is disappointed with the conviction of Satchivi who only exercised his right to freedom of assembly and expression. We call on the Togolese authorities to use dialogue to resolve the political disagreements in the country and to display more tolerance for dissent and respect for freedom of assembly.

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