20 December 2013
Geneva/Lome (20 December 2013): Togo still needs to strengthen respect for human rights in the administration of justice and improve the overall functioning of its justice system, despite some progress and reform, a report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has concluded.
The findings are based on work by the High Commissioner’s office in Togo that included visits to places of detention; the review and follow-up of cases; and training courses for justice professionals.
The Togolese Government had begun a programme in 2005 to modernise the judiciary, leading to some concrete achievements, but problems remain. The report documents the lack of respect, in some cases, for the principle of separation between the investigative, prosecuting and judicial functions. The report also details infringements of the right of appeal to higher courts, as well as interference with the independence of the judiciary.
“Given the weak functioning of the justice system and the challenges highlighted in the report, I call upon the Togolese authorities to continue the current legislative reforms and organise as soon as possible a national consultation on justice. These initiatives will help to restore the confidence of the Togolese people in their justice system,” said United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Pillay.
The report, which makes recommendations to the authorities, analyses to what degree human rights are respected and implemented in the administration of justice and highlights the main causes behind the weak functioning of the judiciary.
These include the systematic use of arrest warrants and prolonged detention and the lack and inadequacy of infrastructure and logistics.
Corruption is a problem, especially when litigants request copies of court decisions. The growing number of démarcheurs de justice - agents without legal status operating in courthouses as intermediaries between some judges and litigants – is also seen as encouraging corrupt practices.
The report notes that there is no bar association for the Appeal Court of Kara, which limits the right to defence in some parts of Togo.
The High Commissioner indicated that her Office was ready to support the Government of Togo to enhance the respect and implementation of human rights in the administration of justice.
The full report (in French) is available here: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Countries/TG/TogoDecember2013.pdf
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