Togo: Journalist Attacked for the Second Time in 12 Days

Robert Avotor, a reporter with the L’Alternative newspaper in Togo, who was recently assaulted by a group of gendarmes, has been attacked again by unknown assailants in Lome.

The MFWA’s correspondent in Togo reported that in the night of February 19, 2017, some unidentified persons on board a four-wheel drive trailed the journalist as he rode on a motorbike. On noticing that the vehicle was trailing him, Avotor reportedly climbed onto the pavement as a precaution. The driver of the vehicle however sped straight at him hitting the rear of his motorcycle and causing him to fall off the motorcycle.

“I fell heavily and had injuries on my head and fore-arms,” Robert Kossi Avotor told our correspondent.

The attackers sped away immediately after realising Avotor had fallen off his motorbike and was injured.

This reported attack on Avotor comes barely two weeks after gendarmes physically assaulted him while covering a land dispute.

According to reports, since the attack by the gendarmes and the decision by Avotor and his newspaper to lodge a complaint against the perpetrators, the journalist has become the target of intimidation.

This incident therefore lends credence to concerns raised by the MFWA about the security of Avotor in the wake of the gendarme assault.

In a joint petition dated February 16, 2017, the MFWA and its national partner in Togo,l’Institut des Médias pour la Démocratie et les Droits de l’Homme (IM2DH), called attention to threats that the journalist could be facing, and urged the Ministry of Defense and the Director General of the national gendarmerie to protect and guarantee the security of Avotor.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Security and Civil Protection, Yak Damehame has assured Avotor that his assailants will be punished. The Minister said this at a meeting in his office on February 21, 2017 with the journalist, together with the Director of Publication of the l’Alternative newspaper and some prominent figures in the Togolese media. The minister also directed his staff to assist Avotor to access medical treatment.

Later that same day, the Attorney General of Togo, Blaise Essolissam Poyodi, also ordered an investigation into the reported car attack and the claim that the judicial authorities are frustrating the journalist’s attempt to seek justice. He assured all that the truth about the matter will be uncovered and situation addressed.

The MFWA and IM2DH welcome the conciliatory gesture by the Minister of Security and the Attorney General, especially their assurances that Avotor’s attackers will be punished as demanded in the petition submitted by the two organisations to the Togolese authorities.

We also salute Avotor and the Management of his newspaper for their resolute pursuit of justice, and call on the judicial authorities in Togo to provide an opportunity for a fair adjudication of the matter.