Togo: Soldiers arrest journalist, seize equipment, delete recordings

Togolese soldiers arrested Edouard Kamboissoa Samboé, a journalist who reports on humanitarian and security crises, and detained him for three days.

Samboé, the owner and founder of the online newspaper Laabali, was arrested as he was reporting on an alleged incident of jihadist attack in Togo’s northern Waldjouaque village (600 Km from the capital Lomé) where six civilians were murdered. He was transferred to the local gendarmerie office in Dapaong, which is also located in the northern part of Togo.

The soldiers questioned the journalist for hours about his work, asking if he had ever interviewed jihadists or worked for a French media organization.

The officers seized Samboé’s phones and his computer, and forced him to reveal the password to one of his phones and his telegram account. They then proceeded to delete all the footages the journalist had recorded.

Samboé was detained from April 30, 2023 to May 2, 2023 before being released after he signed an undertaking not to return to the area without authorization from the authorities. He was able to retrieve his gadgets the following day. However, the journalist has concerns that his devices are no longer to safe to use.

In a conversation with the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), Samboé said despite the traumatizing experience, he will continue reporting in the region. His passion for quality journalism, accountability, good governance, and a better society are his source of motivation.

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) strongly condemns the arbitrary arrest and detention of Edouard Kamboissoa Samboé, and calls on the Togolese authorities to ensure that journalists have the freedom and protection to report from conflict zones. It is a violation of press freedom and the public’s right to information for journalists to be threatened or violently expelled from news sources without any reason. We call for a probe into the incident and measures to deter future abuses against journalists reporting on the activities of extremist groups in northern Togo.

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