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Police prevent journalists from staging demonstration in Togo

On March 14, 2013, security forces in Togo prevented a group of journalists from demonstrating in front of the old presidential palace in Lomé. The journalists had gathered there to protest a law passed by parliament on February 19 that allows the media regulatory body to impose sanctions on the media without recourse to the courts.

According to the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)'s correspondent, security officers angered by the presence of journalists fired tear gas directly at them, injuring Younglove Egbeboua, the Secretary-General of the Union of Information Agents and Journalists of the Public Outlets (SAINTJOP).

Egbeboua suffered a fractured jaw and wounds to the mouth but was treated and discharged from a local hospital.

The demonstration is the last of a three-day protest against the law, which many consider to contradict other provisions of the Togolese Constitution.

On March 12, the Togolese media embarked on a nation-wide media blackout. The following day, they wore red clothes and headbands to show their disapproval of the law.

The new legislation grants the media regulatory body, the High Authority for Broadcasting and Communication (HAAC), powers to suspend any media or order the withdrawal of a publication without going through the courts.

The MFWA emphasizes its call to the Togolese government to withdraw this law. It also petitions security forces to refrain from further harassment and respect journalists' rights to peacefully demonstrate, as guaranteed by Togo's constitution.

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