Child Soldiers Global Report 2008 - Togo
|Publisher||Child Soldiers International|
|Publication Date||20 May 2008|
|Cite as||Child Soldiers International, Child Soldiers Global Report 2008 - Togo, 20 May 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/486cb137c.html [accessed 11 December 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Population: 6.1 million (3.1 million under 18)
Government Armed Forces: 8,600
Compulsary Recruitment Age: 18 (see text)
Voluntary Recruitment Age: 18
Voting Age: 18
Optional Protocol: ratified 28 November 2005
Other Treaties: GC AP I, GC AP II, CRC, ILO 138, ILO 182, ACRWC
There were no reports of under-18s in the regular armed forces. The extent to which any under-18s may have participated in the violence around the 2005 presidential elections was not documented.
Immediately after the death in February 2005 of President Gnassingbé Eyadéma, who had ruled Togo since 1967, the Togolese Armed Forces (Forces armées togolaises, FAT) proclaimed Faure Gnassingbé, his son, as president, precipitating a constitutional and political crisis. In the face of international pressure, Faure Gnassingbé stepped down and called presidential elections for April 2005, which he won amid widespread violence and allegations by opposition parties of vote-rigging.1
According to a fact-finding mission sent to Togo by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, at least 400 people were killed and thousands wounded during the crisis. Estimates by government sources were considerably lower, of 60 to 70 killed.2 The non-governmental Togolese Human Rights League (Ligue togolaise des droits de l'homme, LTDH) reported 811 killed.3 Most of the victims were believed to be adults, although some children were also killed. The security forces were also alleged to have abducted students from schools.4
More than 40,000 people sought refuge in neighbouring Benin and Ghana and thousands of others were internally displaced. As of September 2007 the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) estimated that 13,300 Togolese refugees remained in Benin and Ghana.5 Although opposition supporters were responsible for some violence, including killings, most of the violence and killings were attributed to government security forces and militias, who were accused of using disproportionate force in response to opposition violence, of the deliberate killing of people in their homes and of attempting to hide evidence of the scale of the killings. Violence against women, including rape, by all parties was reportedly widespread.6
In August 2006 the government and opposition parties signed an agreement calling for a government of national unity, making a number of electoral reforms and establishing an ad hoc committee to support UNHCR in assisting refugees to return. The government also agreed to reform the armed forces, which were traditionally dominated by northerners and members of the president's ethnic group, and which had a record of committing human rights abuses. However, no progress was reported regarding an end to impunity for the armed forces, in particular with regard to violence during the 2005 elections.7 Parliamentary elections were scheduled for 2007.8 The elections, which took place in mid-October 2007, were won by the ruling party, the Rally of the Togolese People (Rassemblement du peuple togolais, RPT).9
National recruitment legislation and practice
The 2002 constitution stated that the defence of the nation and its territorial integrity was the duty of every Togolese citizen, that every citizen had the duty to undertake national service under the conditions provided for in law, and that every citizen had the duty to fight any person or group of people who attempted to change the democratic order established by the constitution. Togo's declaration on ratifying the Optional Protocol in November 2005 stated that all recruitment was voluntary, but some sources reported that conscription was in force on a selective basis for a two-year term.10
Togo's declaration on ratification of the Optional Protocol stated also that the minimum age for voluntary recruitment into the national armed forces was 18.
Under the presidency of Gnassingbé Eyadéma government security forces were supported by militias created by and linked to the ruling party. Militias repeatedly participated in violence against the population and political opponents and were active in the violence which followed the April 2005 presidential elections, particularly in Lomé and Atakpamé. Members of the security forces and militias reportedly opened fire on unarmed demonstrators and attacked people in their homes or at polling stations.11 Militia members acting alongside members of the security forces were reportedly armed with machetes and other knives (armes blanches). The majority of militia members were young men. However, the extent to which any under-18s may have been active in or alongside the militias was not clear.12
The report by the UN fact-finding mission described how opposition supporters at times formed "disorganized political militias" during the 2005 violence, and it severely criticized opposition leaders for not providing the leadership which should have prevented violence by their supporters. Opposition supporters, primarily armed with weapons such as machetes or cudgels, attacked government officials and supporters. Foreign nationals were also the targets of xenophobic attacks.13 It was not clear to what extent under-18s had been active in violence by opposition supporters.
Togo ratified the Optional Protocol in November 2005.14
1 Amnesty International Report 2006.
2 Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Rapport de la mission d'établissement des faits chargée de faire la lumière sur les violences et les allégations de violations des droits de l'homme survenues au Togo avant, pendant et après l'élection présidentielle du 24 avril 2005, 29 August 2005, www.reliefweb.int.
3 Amnesty International (AI), Togo: Will history repeat itself? (AFR 57/012/2005), 20 July 2005.
4 AI, Togo: A high-risk transition (AFR 57/008/2005), 18 March 2005; AI, above note 3.
6 OHCHR, above note 2.
8 "Togo: political agreement aims to end 12-year feud", IRIN, 21 August 2006.
9 "Togo ruling party wins election", BBC News, 18 October 2007.
10 International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), The Military Balance 2007.
11 AI, above note 3.
12 OHCHR, above note 2.
14 Declaration on accession to the Optional Protocol, www2.ohchr.org.