Togo is a republic governed by President Faure Gnassingbe, whom voters peacefully re-elected on February 22 in a process that international observers characterized as generally free and fair. Opposition supporters alleged fraud but did not provide any credible evidence. The international community accepted the election results. The 2018 parliamentary elections also took place under peaceful conditions. The Economic Community of West African States considered those elections reasonably free and transparent, despite a boycott by the opposition.
The national police and gendarmerie are responsible for law enforcement and maintenance of order within the country. The gendarmerie is also responsible for migration and border enforcement. The National Intelligence Agency provides intelligence to police and gendarmes but does not have internal security or detention facility responsibilities. Police are under the direction of the Ministry of Security and Civil Protection, which reports to the prime minister. The gendarmerie falls under the Ministry of Defense but also reports to the Ministry of Security and Civil Protection on many matters involving law enforcement and internal security. The Ministry of Armed Forces oversees the military. Civilian authorities did not always maintain effective control over the armed forces, gendarmerie, and police, and government mechanisms to investigate and punish abuse were often not effective. Members of the security forces committed some abuses.
Significant human rights issues included: unlawful or arbitrary killings by security force members; cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment by the government; harsh and life-threatening conditions in prisons and detention centers; arbitrary detention; political prisoners; arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy; serious restrictions on free expression and the internet, including threats of violence, and the existence of criminal libel laws; interference with freedoms of peaceful assembly and association; lack of investigation of and accountability for violence against women; criminalization of consensual same-sex sexual conduct; and reports of crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or intersex persons.
Impunity was a problem. The government took limited steps to investigate, prosecute, or punish officials who committed abuses.
Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
Acts of Violence, Criminalization, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
The law prohibits “acts against nature committed with an individual of one’s sex,” widely understood as a reference to same-sex sexual activity. The law provides that a person convicted of engaging in consensual same-sex sexual activity may be sentenced to one to three years’ imprisonment and a substantial fine, but it was not enforced. On those occasions when police arrested someone for engaging in consensual same-sex sexual activity, the justification for the arrest was usually for some other legal infraction, such as disturbing the peace or public urination. The law forbids promotion of immorality, which is understood to include promotion of same-sex activities. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons faced societal discrimination in employment, housing, and access to education and health care. Existing antidiscrimination law does not apply to LGBTI persons. No law allows transgender persons to change gender markers on government-issued identity documents.
LGBTI groups may register with the Ministry of Territorial Affairs as health-related groups, particularly those focused on HIV/AIDS prevention. Activists reported violence against LGBTI persons was common, but police ignored complaints. Most human rights organizations, including the CNDH, refused to address LGBTI concerns.
HIV and AIDS Social Stigma
The law prohibits discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS, and the government sponsored broadcasts aimed at deterring discrimination. The government National Council for the Fight against AIDS (CNLS) is mandated with preventing discrimination against individuals living with HIV/AIDS. The CNLS conducted awareness raising activities, training, and other activities focused on achieving the objectives of the National Strategic Plan to Fight against HIV/AIDS 2016-2020. Persons with HIV/AIDS nonetheless faced some societal discrimination. For example, there were cases of family abandonment when HIV-positive status was discovered, and the perception that HIV/AIDS was religious punishment for wrongdoing persisted.