The independent Le Regard newspaper has, once again, been seized – the latest in a recent spate of attacks on press freedom, following the passing into law, of a repressive, new Press Code for Togo in January 2000.
On Tuesday, April 16, 2002, the government seized the paper for publishing what the authorities considered an offensive article against the ruling Togolese People’s Rally (RPT). The paper had published a statement by Mr. Dahuku Péré, a member of the RPT, in which Péré called for reform and accountability within the party. Following the publication, the Minister of Interior and Security, General Sizing Akawilou Walla, ordered the seizure of the newspaper, on grounds that it infringed Article 108 of the 2000 Press Code.
One week earlier, on Tuesday, April 9, 2002, police had seized nearly the entire print run of the newspaper for an article about the recent appearance of Prime Minister Agbeyome Kodjo at a conference in Geneva, sponsored by the United Nations Human Rights Commission.
The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) is deeply concerned about the inhospitable media climate created, or legitimated, by Togo’s authoritarian Press Code of 2000, which clearly undermines the right of press freedom guaranteed under the country’s Constitution. The MFWA urges you to appeal to the government of Togo to repeal this obnoxious new Press Code, and to protest the persistent seizures of media publications, and the harassment and arbitrary arrests of journalists in the country.