The United States says it is concerned about the increasingly deteriorating political situation in Togo. The use of excessive force by security forces on protesters was of particular concern.
A statement issued by a U.S. Department of State spokesperson, Heather Nauert, said violence and restrictions on rights of people were of concern to the U.S.
The Embassy in the Togolese capital, Lome, issues a security message over the last two days of opposition protest – November 18 and 19. A number of deaths have been recorded since protests started in August this year. The government has reported of mass arrests of protesters and banned weekday protests.
We are particularly troubled by reports of excessive use of force by security forces and reports that Government-sponsored vigilantes are using force and the threat of force to disrupt protests and intimidate civilians.
The U.S. also commented on the arrest of an Imam in the town of Sokode, which incident resulted in demonstrations, the torching of buildings and clashes between security forces and protesters.
The full statement read as follows:
“The United States is deeply concerned about rising levels of violence and restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly in Togo related to protests over proposed constitutional reforms.
“We are particularly troubled by reports of excessive use of force by security forces and reports that Government-sponsored vigilantes are using force and the threat of force to disrupt protests and intimidate civilians.
“The United States is also concerned with the Government of Togo’s decision to restrict demonstrations during the workweek and to arrest a prominent imam in the city of Sokode.
“We call on the Government of Togo to uphold its citizens’ human rights, notably their freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and internet freedom and to ensure that all those arrested during demonstrations are afforded the right to due process.
“The United States deplores the violence that has claimed the lives of protesters and security forces alike. We urge all parties to renounce violence. We encourage the Government and opposition to engage in dialogue without preconditions, which is the only solution to the current impasse.”