Last Updated 2 December 2016

In the area historically known as “the Slave Coast”, Togo gained independence from France in 1960. Eyadéma Gnassingbé came to power in 1967 in a bloodless coup and died 5 February 2005 after 38 years in power, the longest dictatorship in African history. A military-backed succession by his son, Faure Gnassingbé, provoked condemnation internationally and division in the African Union.

Systemic Discrimination
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Constitution and government

The constitution protects freedom of thought, conscience and religion, as well as freedom of expression, assembly and association. While the right to freedom of belief is generally respected, the authorities show far less respect for the right to criticize the government through media or public demonstrations.

The government recognizes Catholicism, Protestantism, and Islam as official religions. The government requires all other religious groups, including indigenous groups, to register as religious associations. Official recognition as a religious association affords them the same rights as those afforded to Catholic, Protestant and Muslim groups.

The constitution explicitly prohibits the establishment of political parties based on religion, ethnic group, or region.

Education and children’s rights

The state school curriculum does not include religion classes; however, there are many Catholic, Protestant, and Islamic schools, and the government provides them with teachers and other staff, and pays their salaries.

Freedom of expression, advocacy of humanist values

Freedom of expression is guaranteed by law. However, criticism of the government is often not tolerated. Impunity for crimes against journalists and frequent defamation suits encourage self-censorship. A 2009 law gives the state broadcasting council, the High Authority of Broadcasting and Communications (HAAC), the power to impose severe penalties—including the suspension of publications or broadcasts and the confiscation of press cards—if journalists are found to have made “serious errors” or are “endangering national security.” These provisions have been used to suppress criticism of the government.

Freedom of assembly is sometimes restricted. A 2011 law requires that demonstrations receive prior authorization and only be held during certain times of the day. Demonstrations are often dispersed by security forces, sometimes violently.

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