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(en) Togo: release of arrested trade unionists

From "Lucien van der Walt" <029walt@cosmos.wits.ac.za>
Date Tue, 8 Feb 2000 10:00:35 GMT + 2:00
Organization University of the Witwatersrand

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------- Forwarded Message Follows -------



TOGO: Arrested trade unionists freed

Brussels February 7 2000 (ICFTU OnLine): The two trade unionists and the
journalist who were arrested on January 28 for "spreading false information"
were released on Friday, February 4, following the intervention of General
Eyadema, the Togolese Head of State.

The three men were released after a meeting between AFRO, the ICFTU's
regional organisation and the Togolese Prime Minister. The ICFTU and AFRO
welcomed the fact that as a result of the dialogue between the trade union
mission and the Togolese authorities the government agreed that the
treatment of the trade unionists was neither in the interest of the
country's education system, nor in the national interest.

The ICFTU was shocked and concerned to learn of the arrest on January 28 of
Tetevi Norberrt Gbikpi-Benissan, General Secretary of UNSIT, an ICFTU
affiliate, and Pierre Allaga-Kodegui, General Secretary of the Teachers'
Federation, FETREN, both of whom had been arrested for spreading false
information. The manager of the newspaper Aurore was also arrested on the
same charges. The leaders of the other Togolese union, the CSTT, a WCL
affiliate were also threatened with arrest.

On the day of the trade unionists' arrest, the ICFTU wrote to President
Eyadema demanding their immediate release, and urging Togo to respect
international human rights standards, including freedom of expression. They
also requested the government to pay the teachers' salary arrears, and to
open a dialogue with the trade unions and the student organisations to
discuss their demands.

At the same time an AFRO mission was sent to Togo to negotiate directly with
the authorities for their release. Because President Eyadema is preparing
have the Presidency of the next Summit of the Organisation of African Union
(OAU) which will be held in Lomé, the Togolese capital, in July, the ICFTU
was able to point out to him the importance of promoting the respect of
trade union rights and democracy in the country.

This argument seems to have carried some weight with the President,
according to an official news release, as the Togolese head of state
personally approached the Minister of Education and asked him to withdraw
his complaint so that the three men could be released.

For more information please contact: ICFTU Press Office on: ++322 224 0212

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