La Nouvelle newspaper, highly critical of the government in Togo, has been authorised to resume publication by the Haute autorité de l’audiovisuel et de la communication (HAAC), the media regulatory body.
The newspaper was banned in 2012 and the license of the Director of Publication withdrawn for submitting incomplete application documents. However, many people linked the sanctions to a series of publications that revealed intimate issues about the head of state.
HAAC said it took the decision on July 27, 2016, because « Mr Bonéro Lawson-Betum, Director of Publication of La Nouvelle, has made a commitment to scrupulously observe the code of ethics regulating the work of journalists. »
The Director of Publications had written to the HAAC to request that the four-year ban on his newspaper be lifted. According to the regulatory body, it granted the request following the newspaper’s undertaking and after a careful consideration of “the legal and regulatory provisions in force”, particularly Article 58 of the Act governing the institution.
Considered to be pro-opposition, Bonero Lawson-Betum was arrested on May 19, 2015 for publications “judged to be prejudicial” to the Togolese Minister of Security and Civil Protection, Colonel Damahane Yark, his daughter and family. He spent four months in the Civil Prison of Lome after being detained for some days, on both occasions without trial, at the headquarters of the Criminal Division of the Police in Lome. He was freed in September, 2015.
Meanwhile, radio X-Solaire and Légende FM banned in 2010 and 2013 respectively, remain under sanctions, despite frantic campaigns by their lawyers, the Togolese media and civil society to have the popular radio stations reopened.