Dáil Éireann - Volume 589 - 07 October, 2004
Written Answers. - Human Rights Issues.
Mr. Boyle Mr. Boyle
124. Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his evaluation of the human rights situation in Togo. [23966/04]
Mr. Cowen Mr. Cowen
Mr. Cowen: The European Union has, on numerous occasions, expressed its serious concern at the human rights situation in Togo. The issues of particular concern have included violations of freedom of expression, torture and arbitrary detention, safety of human rights defenders, lack of independence of the judiciary and impunity. This has been underscored by a general lack of respect for democratic principles. Against this background, the European Union suspended all aid to Togo in the early 1990s.
In late 2003, Togo made it clear that it wished to renew relations with the EU. During the Irish Presidency of the EU, it was agreed to open Article 96 consultations with Togo, as set out in the Cotonou Agreement. These consultations are held in circumstances where a party to the Cotonou Agreement does not meet its requirements regarding human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law.
Ireland chaired the Article 96 consultations in Brussels on 14 April 2004 which covered four broad areas; democratic principles, human rights, fundamental freedom and follow-up commitments. Togo agreed to a list of 22 commitments  with a timetable for their implementation. These commitments covered a wide range of actions relating to human rights, democratic principles and freedom of the press. Minister Cowen met the Togolese Prime Minister, Kofi Sama, in Dublin following the consultations in Brussels, where he reiterated the importance of compliance by Togo with the commitments entered into during the Article 96 consultations.
The Togolese Government has submitted a number of reports on its progress in implementing the 22 commitments. These reports have demonstrated some progress and some evidence of political goodwill on the part of the Government of Togo. For instance, on ensuring compliance by police and military authorities with human rights norms, and on the issue of political prisoners, the Government of Togo is clearly making efforts to improve the situation. However, limited progress has been made on the key commitment to restart political dialogue with the opposition, and also on organising local and parliamentary elections. The European Union continues, therefore, to press for more progress in this area. Discussions are ongoing in the Council of Ministers to see how, following the closure of the Article 96 negotiations and against the above background, relations with Togo should be taken forward.
Dáil Éireann 589 Written Answers. Human Rights Issues.