FEBRUARY 28, 2003
The High Authority for Audio-visual Communications (HAAC), Togo's official media regulatory body, ordered radio station Tropik FM closed indefinitely. Station Director Albert Biki Tchékin said that on February 27, President Gnassingbé Eyadéma called him into his office to answer accusations that Tropik FM was allowing the opposition to insult the ruling regime on the air.
According to Tchékin, the accusations stem from the station's weekly program "Civic and Political Forum," which includes debates on social and political issues, as well as comments from callers. The February 22 edition featured a debate on the upcoming presidential elections, and guests and audience members questioned Eyadéma's apparent intention to run for a third term in office, a right granted in December when the Parliament voted to allow him to stand for another term.
Tropik FM is negotiating with the government to reopen the station.
JUNE 14, 2003
Dimas Dzikodo, L'Evenement
Philip Evégnon, L'Evenement
Jean de Dieu Kpakpabia, Nouvel Echo
IMPRISONED, LEGAL ACTION
Dzikodo, editor-in-chief of the private weekly L'Evenement, was arrested at a cybercafé in the capital, Lomé, while scanning photographs of people whom police and government supporters had allegedly manhandled during the June 1 presidential elections. Police claim that members of the opposition Union des Forces du Changement (UFC) gave Dzikodo the photos, and that he was planning to send the pictures to a Web site based outside Togo.
Togolese journalists told CPJ that Kpakpabia, a journalist for the private weekly Nouvel Echo, was arrested at the same cybercafé later that day. Police said the journalist was trying to send photos with similar content to a Web site outside the country.
On June 15, police arrested Evégnon, publication director for L'Evenement, claiming he had directed Dzikodo to scan the photos.
On June 19, police allowed Evégnon and Dzikodo to speak to the press. The two journalists confirmed that they had received the photos from UFC members but said they were archiving the pictures and not sending them to a Web site. Police provided no explanation for Kpakpabia's absence from the press briefing.
On June 24, Dzikodo, Evégnon, and Kpakpabia were formally charged with "publishing false information and disturbing public order." The three journalists were transferred to Lomé Central Prison from the National Security Services headquarters, where they had spent more than a week in detention. Sources in Lomé said the journalists appeared to have been beaten.