Izotou Abi-Alfa, Zeus Aziadouvo et Carlos Ketohou, Managing Editors of Le Rendez-vous, Liberté and L’Indépendant Express newspapers respectively, were interrogated on 25th September and 29th September, 2015 (in the case of Ketohou) by the Central Command of the Judicial Police.
The MFWA correspondent in Togo reported that the three were accused of publishing a story about an asphalt road project in which the Minister of Finance and Economy, Adji Oteth Ayassor and the Minister of Infrastructure and Transport, Ninsao Gnofam, were believed to have received a kick-back commission of 10 billion CFA francs out of the total project cost 26 billion CFA francs.
The journalists were interrogated and their caution statements lodged in the station dairy.
A press statement issued by the Togolese Press Owner’s Union, PPT, “vehemently condemned the hauling of the journalists before the judicial police while the Haute Autorité de l’Audiovisuel et de la Communication (HAAC), the national media regulatory body, had begun a mediation process on the 23rd of September 2015, at the request of the two ministers concerned.”
The statement added that even if a press offense has been committed, it should not be redressed under the Criminal Code, but the rather the Press and Communication Code which regulates the profession.
The correspondent said the three journalists are safe for now, but there is uncertainty about the turn that the case might take.
The MFWA is appalled at the action of the Togolese police against the journalists. In a democratic state such as Togo, press offenses should be tried under civil laws, not under martial laws. We are equally concerned at recent trends in Togo where that media have come under intense pressure from government officials, and call on the authorities in the country to ensure the safety and security of journalists.