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Police clamp down on demonstrators

(MFWA/IFEX) - Rights groups demanding an investigation into recent attacks and threats against journalists and the media in Togo were on August 6, 2011 violently dispersed by the country's security forces.

The protestors were accusing the country's National Intelligence Agency (ANR) of physically attacking journalists and citizens in the country with impunity.

The demonstrators, mainly media professionals, members of the organization SOS Journaliste en danger, civil society groups and members of the opposition political parties, were attacked with tear gas.

The Media Foundation for West Africa's (MFWA) correspondent reported that the security agencies' clamp down on the demonstrators compelled the leadership to end the demonstration and address the protestors in front of the French Embassy in Lomé, the capital.

A statement read by the protestors requested, among other things, the opening of a serious investigation into the alleged threats by the ANR against journalists as well as the resignation of Colonel Yotroféi Massina as head of the ANR.

"Faced with the danger that the powers that be pose to press freedom, SOS JED requests that its demands be met to ensure the safety of journalists and create an atmosphere conducive for them to freely practice their profession," the statement said.

The correspondent said that since July 22, journalists critical of the authorities have been threatened with "physical injury and death."

However, the Togolese Minister of Security and Civil Protection, Colonel Gnama Latta, has denied the allegations by the group. In a statement issued on August 5, Col. Latta said investigations had shown that the allegations against the ANR were unfounded and that his ministry was ready to protect journalists in the country.

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