The UN Human Rights Office in Togo launched a comprehensive project to strengthen the human rights monitoring system during the Togo legislative elections held on 25 July.
The Country Representative of the UN Human Rights Office in Togo, Olatokunbo Ige, says the idea was to contribute to creating an environment conducive to the free exercise of citizens' rights.
The project included a free and accessible hotline and an internet tool for eyewitnesses and victims to report human rights violations in real time.
The hotline, also known as “Lignes vertes” (French for Green line), allowed the public to use either a landline or mobile phones to communicate potential violations of human rights during the elections to the Office. Nearly 200 persons reported incidents or shared relevant information.
The internet tool, called “AssereDassefo”, was the more popular choice among the Togolese, who preferred communicating incidents via email or social media. During the electoral process, more than 1,200 persons accessed this platform to share information or request an intervention from the Office.
“AssereDassefo”, or “witness” in the Kabye and Ewe languages, was inspired by the Kenya platform Ushahidi, which was created in the aftermath of Kenya's disputed 2007 presidential elections. Similarly to Ushahidi, “AssereDassefo” has a geo-location function, which enabled the UN Human Rights Office to map areas of high concentration of reported violations, in order to alert the appropriate authorities to take corrective action.
There were several allegations of human rights violations reported via the internet platform, including the intimidation of political activists, votes by minors and voters being bribed.
This project was created in response to the very tense political atmosphere prevailing in the country prior to the 2005 elections and the need to prevent a return to political violence.
“We felt it was important to develop this project to prevent human rights violations and to contribute to social peace,” Ige says.
This extensive project also included the training and deployment of 600 human rights observers, the creation and distribution of 6,500 copies of a manual on human rights and free and fair elections, as well as 6,000 manuals on the maintenance of law and order for enforcement and security agents. These booklets were distributed to security forces, the government, political actors and civil society organisations, including the media.
Since the establishment of the UN Human Rights Office in Togo in 2006, the Office has made significant strides to ensure the protection of human rights in the country.
19 September 2013