The OHCHR Country Office in Togo was established in November 2006 to help build national capacities to protect human rights. Since then, it has been providing assistance to the Government in designing policies to comply with international obligations and to ensure accountability for past abuses.
The Office was established following major political violence and human rights violations in the context of the 2005 presidential elections. The political leaders signed a General Peace Agreement (APG) on 20 August 2006 which provides for, inter alia, the adoption of measures for the promotion and protection of human rights, as well as the establishment of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission. The Office has been actively supporting the implementation of the agreement.
Following peaceful legislative elections in 2007, the Government continued in 2008 and in 2009 to adopt a series of measures to promote and protect human rights. This renewed commitment led to the establishment of the Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC), the signature and ratification of several international human rights instruments, the abolition of the death penalty and the holding of peaceful presidential elections in 2010. In the framework of the reform of the armed and security forces, the Office contributed to training programs on human rights and humanitarian law, jointly with the ICRC and UNREC (United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC)).
However, the country still faces major challenges to ensure the full implementation of the APG, the recommendations of the 2005 Fact-Finding Mission Report as well as the recommendations issued by various treaty bodies. The TJRC will have to address the concerns of victims of human rights violations that occurred during the period defined by its mandate (1958 – 2005).
Human rights challenges in Togo also include consolidating democratic institutions, as well as the realization of economic, social and cultural rights.
The OHCHR Country Office has been providing technical assistance to the Government for the elaboration, adoption and implementation of several legislative measures to protect and promote human rights, including Togo’s ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and the establishment of a national protection mechanism against torture, as well as the elaboration of a law on the right to peaceful assembly and demonstrations. The Government has confirmed its commitment to respect its international obligations by officially launching a participative process towards the elaboration of the National UPR Report. Moreover, the Parliament passed a law in June 2009 abolishing death penalty for all crimes.
OHCHR supported the process that led to the creation of the Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) in February 2009. The Office continues to provide substantial support at all levels to the TJRC to enable it to carry out its mission in accordance with international standards. By the end of 2010, the Commission gathered 18571 testimonies from witnesses and victims.
Collaboration has been strengthened with UNDP, the UN Regional Centre on Peace and Disarmament (UNREC), UNHCR,UNFPA and the other UN agencies in Togo in promoting human-rights-based approach to development and conflict resolution mechanisms in Togo.
In 2007 and 2010 respectively, the Office implemented a comprehensive project to promote non-violent legislative and presidential elections and to monitor the respect for human rights during the entire electoral process, also in close cooperation with the other UN agencies, mainly UNDP.
The main priorities of OHCHR Togo are:
- To support the functioning of the Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) in accordance with international human rights standards, to monitor, investigate and redress past human rights abuses.
- To assist the Ministry of Human Rights in the implementation of the national protection and promotion programme for human rights, taking into account the concerns resulting from it human rights monitoring activities.
- To assist the Government to ensure that national legislation complies with international human rights standards. This support, especially in the field of women’s rights and gender-based violence, prevention against torture and discrimination, is expected to result in legislative and policy changes in compliance with Togo’s international treaty obligations.
- To provide technical assistance and financial support to the National Human Rights Commission and NGOs. The Office is seeking to build the capacity of national institutions and civil society organizations for them to take a leading role in monitoring human rights violations as well as ensuring that the authorities duly implement Human Rights Council resolutions and recommendations of treaty bodies, special procedures and UPR.
- To support the entire UPR process leading to the review session in October 2011. The Office will promote a broad participative approach, involving all relevant stakeholders into the preparation of the national report and subsequently the implementation of the recommendations issued by the UPR Working Group.
- To continue to collaborate with the UN Country Team to encourage joint activities on human rights themes. The Office will also continue its joint action with UNDP in support of the TJRC and on conflict prevention and resolution mechanisms, with UNICEF in a national human rights education programme, with UNREC, UNFPA and other agencies in joint programmes covering gender issues, the millennium villages, and the security forces. The Office is also engaged in all thematic groups of the UN country team in Togo.