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Diplomacy in Action

Togo


Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Report
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Part 1: Political and Human Rights Conditions

Togo is a republic governed by President Faure Gnassingbe, who was declared president in 2005 in an election marred by irregularities and violence following the death of his father, long-time dictator Gnassingbe Eyadema. While the military generally lacks civilian oversight and is involved to some extent in politics, the country has made some democratic progress. This progress includes the free legislative elections of October 2007, in which the opposition participated and gained seats in the National Assembly, and the September 2008 naming of a more reform-minded cabinet. The human rights situation in the country has improved; however, human rights problems continue, including: partial inability of citizens to change their government; torture and other abuse of detainees; official impunity; harsh prison conditions; arbitrary arrests and detention; lengthy pretrial detention; executive influence over the judiciary; restrictions on freedom of press, assembly, and movement; corruption; female genital mutilation and violence against women; discrimination against women; regional and ethnic favoritism; trafficking in persons, especially children; and child labor.

Part 2: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives

The U.S. Government's main priorities are to promote democracy, good governance, and human rights through encouraging free and fair presidential elections in 2010. This includes focusing on the development of independent political parties, strengthening the media, and increasing participation of an independent civil society in political affairs. Additionally, the development of a more independent judiciary, a reduction in tolerance for official corruption, and building the capacity of the National Assembly are also important U.S. priorities. Combating child labor is another area of U.S. focus.

Part 3: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human Rights and Democratic Governance

The U.S. Government continues to play an influential role in efforts to promote free and fair elections by participating in a project with other diplomatic leaders to support the 2010 presidential elections through frequent discussions with government officials. The United States actively promotes increased political participation. This includes starting an on-going dialogue with youth leaders to discuss best practices for holding democratic and non-violent presidential elections and organizing a workshop for parliamentarians to increase their capacity to lead the population into non-violent, free, and transparent elections. U.S.-sponsored events that focused on the 2008 presidential election in the United States also provided an opportunity to promote the importance of democratic elections. The United States sponsored events that provided dual language coverage of the U.S. elections to local political leaders, civil society activists, government ministers, university students, and other diplomatic and international organization leaders. The events led to debates about how to hold free elections successfully.

The U.S. ambassador and other U.S. officials meet regularly with members of the government, opposition, and civil society to advocate for democracy and human rights goals. They also attend events organized by NGOs to demonstrate support for local initiatives on a wide range of topics including press freedom, women's rights, trafficking in persons, government reforms, corruption, and transparency.

The United States has provided extensive training to local journalists including a five-day speaker program in which a U.S. trainer discussed the role of a free press in democracy, the fundamentals of journalism, and ethics and professionalism. Journalists also participated in seminars on the U.S. election process.
 
The United States maintains an American Corner in the country. The main objective of the programs at the American Corner is to promote democratic values and an understanding of U.S. society and culture to university students and faculty, the media, and members of civil society organizations. Guest speaker programs, book debates, video conferences, and seminars focus on topics such as women's rights, transparency and good governance, media freedom, the role of the military in a democracy, and the rights of minority groups. Book debates have discussed topics such as the process of truth and reconciliation in South Africa, while Togo is undergoing its truth and reconciliation process.

The United States promotes human rights and democratic civic participation. Efforts include work with various segments of civil society on projects ranging from the efficiency and human rights practices of the judicial system to promoting civic education and women's rights, particularly in rural areas. An on-going U.S.-funded project promotes the rights of persons with disabilities. The U.S. Government also supports a program to combat the worst forms of child labor. U.S. officials meet regularly with the program's local administrator and attend meetings of NGOs, who are working to develop a common strategy to combat child trafficking and labor.



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