Togo on ‘Irreversible’ Path to Enhancing Protections, Consolidating Rule of Law Following 2005 Unrest, Delegation Tells Human Rights Committee
Togo on ‘Irreversible’ Path to Enhancing Protections, Consolidating Rule of Law Following 2005 Unrest, Delegation Tells Human Rights Committee
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Human Rights Committee
2773rd & 2774th Meetings (AM & PM)
Togo on ‘Irreversible’ Path to Enhancing Protections, Consolidating Rule of Law
Following 2005 Unrest, Delegation Tells Human Rights Committee
Amid Praise for ‘Self-criticism’ as 101st Session Opens,
Some Experts Raise Questions about Public Officials Accused of Torture
Togo was on an irreversible path to sustainable human development and democracy, which would enhance the protection of human rights and consolidate the rule of law in the wake of the period of national unrest that had followed the death of its President in 2005, the country’s Minister for Human Rights, Consolidation of Democracy and the Rule of Law, told the Human Rights Committee today as it began its 101st session.
“We are far from perfection,” Leonardina Rita Doris Wilson de-Souza said as she introduced Togo’s fourth periodic report on the country’s implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. However, even if Togo’s protection of human rights and democracy, and its consolidation of the rule of law were in constant flux, like any human undertaking, it was on the upswing, she stressed.
Addressing the 18-member Human Rights Committee, the expert body charged with monitoring compliance with the Covenant, she said that following a national dialogue that had concluded with the Global Political Accord of 20 August 2006, the conditions for national reconciliation now existed in Togo. Among other things, the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission had been established, while legislative and presidential elections had taken place in October 2007 and March 2010, respectively.
She further reported that the local office of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) had been established to boost national capacities. It had worked with the National Human Rights Commission to organize training seminars for civil servants, lawyers and civil society so as to raise awareness of human rights and public freedom. Meanwhile, Togo’s recent abolition of the death sentence had commuted all such convictions to life without parole, and there had been a decrease in the incidents of torture in certain detention centres, including police stations.
Togo nevertheless did not have enough prisons, and the existing ones were old and overcrowded, she said, noting that the largest prison, located in the capital, had been built for 666 people, though it held 1,822 detainees. The Government planned to build a new facility that would uphold the standard of separation of detainees, while changes to the Criminal Code would result in fewer people being imprisoned before being charged.
In its efforts to further equality between men and women, and curb gender discrimination, the State was working to turn women into real partners, she said, noting its particular focus on rural women. But despite specific prohibitions against violence, Togolese women continued to face domestic violence and discrimination in areas relating to inheritance.
She said that, as a country of origin, transit and destination, Togo also remained a “turntable” in the trafficking of children. Convinced that poverty was the main cause of trafficking, the Government had undertaken a number of legislative measures aimed at extending a national policy of social protection, including through a pilot project of cash transfers for the most vulnerable.
Responding to the presentation, a few of the Committee’s experts praised the delegation for the quality of its “self-criticism”, suggesting that other States might follow that good but rare practice. Others expressed concern that the investigations into the unrest of 2005 had been ineffective, while still others pressed the delegation on how the State had responded to several complaints of torture and ill treatment filed against public officials. One expert said “unacceptably low” staff-to-prisoner ratios, ministerial control over prisons and the delegation of authority to prisoners over other prisoners must be addressed if the correctional sector was to be reformed.
Opening the session at an earlier and welcoming the Committee’s three new members, Ivan Šimonovic, head of the New York Office of OHCHR, said that with the Covenant’s entry into force in Guinea-Bissau on 1 February 2011, the number of States Parties now stood at 167. In addition, Kyrgyzstan had become the seventy-third State Party to the Covenant’s Second Optional Protocol on 6 December 2010.
Recalling that he had assumed his position in July 2010, he said it had been reinforced and restructured over the last six months to strengthen linkages between New York, Geneva and the field. He said 2011 “will be a challenging year for treaty bodies, as it will be for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights”, he continued, recalling the High Commissioner’s call in 2009 for the initiation of a process of reflection on ways and means to strengthen the treaty body system. He outlined a number of subsequent meetings held with that in mind, as well as the 2009 Dublin Statement, the 2010 Marrakech Statement and the 2011 Poznan Statement, which together furthered that strengthening process.
Noting that the consultative phase of the review process was expected to conclude in Dublin later this year, he said the General Assembly had requested the Secretary-General to submit, at its sixty-sixth session, a proposal to improve the effectiveness of the human rights treaty bodies and identify efficiencies in their working methods.
The Human Rights Committee’s current session would, as usual, be very busy, he said, noting that its experts were set to examine three national reports in addition to Togo’s: Slovakia’s third, Serbia’s second and Mongolia’s fifth. They would also consider the situation in the Seychelles, in the absence of a report. Country task forces would adopt lists of issues on the periodic reports of Iran, Dominican Republic, Norway and Yemen, as well as on Malawi, whose initial report was long overdue, he added.
He said the Committee would also have its second reading of its future comment 34 on article 19 of the Covenant (on freedom of expression and opinion), and consider progress reports submitted by the Special Rapporteur for Follow-Up on Concluding Observations and the Special Rapporteur for Follow-Up on Views.
At the outset of the meeting, the Committee elected Zonke Zanele Majodina, expert from South Africa, as Chair for the current biennium. Elected as Vice-Chairs were Yuji Iwasawa, expert from Japan; Michael O'Flaherty, expert from Ireland; and Fabián Omar Salvioli, expert from Argentina. Hellen Keller, expert from Switzerland, was elected Rapporteur.
In other business, the Committee adopted the agenda and programme of work for its current session. Also, in accordance with article 38 of the Covenant, the following newly elected members made the solemn declaration to discharge their duties as members of the Committee impartially and conscientiously: Cornelis Flinterman, expert from the Netherlands; Gerald L. Neuman, expert from the United States; and Margo Waterval, expert from Suriname.
While the Bureau had been elected by consensus, Iulia Antoanella Motoc, expert from Romania, asked why all five regions were not represented, suggesting that the Committee consider that question in the future. She also suggested that the Committee should have terms of office.
Krister Thelin, expert from Sweden, reported on the recent activities of the Committee’s Working Group on Communications, which had met from 8 to 11 March. Experts had examined 26 communications and agreed that four of them should be declared inadmissible. Of the 2,030 communications registered over the Committee’s lifetime, 300 continued to be listed on its backlog, he noted. Given the Committee’s current track record for considering communications, and the fact that it received an average of 95 additional communications annually, that backlog would only increase, he said, urging the Working Group to meet for five days rather than four, and to consider a review of its working methods in order to deal with the backlog and, hopefully, “make a dent in it”.
The Human Rights Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 15 March, to conclude its consideration of Togo’s fourth periodic report.
The Human Rights Committee, the 18-member expert body that monitors global implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, began today its 101st session, which will run until 1 April 2011. The Committee meets in Geneva or New York and normally holds three sessions a year.
As it took up the fourth periodic report of Togo, the Committee was expected to receive information from that country’s delegation on the evolution of its human rights situation and on domestic measures adopted to safeguard the rights and freedoms set out in the Covenant.
The report notes that, in its efforts to renew relations with the international community, the Government held consultations with the European Union on 14 April 2004, entering into 22 commitments intended to strengthen democratic institutions and respect for human rights. However, that “burst of political, institutional and legal reforms”, intended to have led to early legislative elections by the end of June 2005, was interrupted by the sudden death of President Gnassingbe Eyadema, which ushered in a new era of socio-political tension marked by slippages in the field of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Despite those developments, however, “human rights occupy an important place in Togo’s legal, political and institutional systems”, the report states, noting that the Constitution incorporates international human rights instruments ratified into Togo’s basic law. The Government is determined to continue its march towards democracy and State consolidation based on the rule of law, the sine qua non condition for the full realization of basic rights and public freedoms, in line with national treaty obligations.
Presentation of Togo’s Report
LEONARDINA RITA DORIS WILSON DE-SOUZA, Minister for Human Rights, Consolidation of Democracy and the Rule of Law of Togo, presented her country’s fourth periodic report, saying the presentation should have taken place in August 2000, but had been delayed due to a number of institutional issues. She apologized for the delay, saying Togo would meet its deadlines in the future.
She said the report was the work of the intergovernmental commission, with the participation of the Togolese office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the National Human Rights Commission and civil society. The intergovernmental commission was hampered by a shortage of current and detailed information and a lack of financial resources, she said, adding that the country was nevertheless firmly attached to democracy, respect for fundamental liberties and good governance.
Togo’s current democratization process had contributed to a significant improvement in the political, social and development environment, she said. Among other things, a national dialogue had been undertaken and had concluded with the Global Political Accord of 20 August 2006. The establishment of a local office of OHCHR had made a notable contribution to enhancing human rights, she said, stressing that the conditions for national reconciliation now existed.
Turning to the report, she said its first part presented the political and administrative structure as well as the judicial framework for the protection of human rights. The second half provided information on actions taken at the national level to further the rights enshrined in the Covenant. The answers underscored the Government’s past and current efforts, as well as its future intentions to address shortfalls. Before taking up the relevant articles, she stressed that Togo had made significant progress in protecting human rights through the ratification of a number of international treaties and conventions, including the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (Palermo Protocol) and the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, among others.
She said training seminars had been held for civil servants, as well as among lawyers and civil society. A law on the composition, organization and functioning of the National Human Rights Commission had been adopted in 2005. On participation in public life and incitement to racial violence (articles 20 and 25), she stressed that those rights were at the heart of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission’s ongoing work. The Government was awaiting its conclusions, she said, while noting that the Commission’s work did not exclude legal proceedings since it did not substitute for legal due process.
On equality between men and women, and the prohibition of gender discrimination (articles 2, 3 and 26), she said the Government was working to turn women into real partners. The Prime Minister had presented to the National Assembly a programme of action that provided for the strengthening of laws on women’s rights to inheritance and addressed female genital mutilation, among other areas of discrimination. Togo also aimed to provide quality education for girls, she added.
Overall, the country’s women’s agenda was particularly focused on rural women and girls, she continued, emphasizing that the Government wished to ensure gender equality as a basic policy, as well as a way to rebalance relations between men and women. Through recent recruitment efforts, women were entering traditionally male domains like policing, forestry, the army and corrections. In the last presidential elections, women had been elected to 7 of the Government’s 31 posts and 9 of the 81 National Assembly seats.
Regarding violence against women (articles 3 and 7), she said the penal code prohibited, in a general sense, all acts of violence. To strengthen the rights of women, the new draft Criminal Code contained specific prohibitions on violence against women, while law 2007-005 of 10 January 2007 stated that no woman should be subjected, for reasons relating to sexuality or reproduction, to torture or violence such as rape, forced marriage, female genital mutilation or other forms of harassment. Despite those prohibitions, however, Togolese women continued to face domestic violence and discrimination in areas relating to inheritance, she said.
Turning to the report’s section on the right to life, the prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and the rights of the child (articles 6, 7 and 24), she said the Criminal Code condemned threats and actions to take a woman’s life. Togo’s recent abolishment of the death sentence had commuted all such convictions to life without parole, and incidents of torture in certain detention centres, including police stations, had decreased. Where the rights of detainees were not respected, it was often due to ignorance of the applicable prohibitions, she added.
While humanitarian law was part of the training for police and medical personnel, events linked to the electoral consultations of 2005 demonstrated the limits of that training and underscored the need for ongoing education, she said, adding that training seminars for police on human rights were currently being organized to enhance respect for human rights and human dignity.
On the prohibition of slavery and forced work (article 8), she said that despite efforts to prevent trafficking in persons, and to support the Palermo Protocol, her country remained a “turntable” in child trafficking. It was a country of origin as well as transit and destination in the trafficking of children, she said. Convinced that poverty was the main cause of trafficking, the Government had undertaken a number of legislative measures aimed at extending a national policy of social protection, including through a pilot project of cash transfers for the most vulnerable.
Summarizing the report’s section on the right to liberty and personal security (articles 9 and 11), she said her country had one of the largest numbers per capita of media organizations in West Africa. Togo had approximately 11 television channels, 70 radio stations and 200 print publications, she said. Yet, the Government recognized that there had been insufficient efforts with respect to the right of habeas corpus. According to law, no individual could be arrested for civil or commercial debt, yet people were still detained, she said, adding that police officers were being trained as part of a national justice modernization programme.
On the treatment of detainees (article 10), she said Togo had an insufficient number of prisons, and existing ones were old and overcrowded. Emergency support programmes had been instituted, but had not solved the problems. In Togo’s largest prison, located in Lomé, had been built for 666 people, but held 1,822 detainees, she said. The Government planned to build a new prison that would uphold the standard of separation of detainees. Moreover, changes to the Criminal Code meant that fewer people would be imprisoned before being charged. Another new bill proposed alternatives to imprisonment. Finally, prison and reinsertion budgets had been increased, including through special allocations, and roughly 500 prison staff were currently being recruited. She went on to point out that detainees could only be remanded for 48 hours except in cases of serious crimes like drug trafficking, when the detention period could be extended for eight days. In practice, however, those limits were not always respected, she said, adding that a general inspection service had reviewed practices at detention centres since 2008.
She said the right to freedom of movement (article 12) was guaranteed by the Constitution. However, the right to fair and equal treatment before the law (articles 14 and 26) was often constrained by a lack of infrastructure and judges. The Government was working to improve training for justice professionals, she said, noting that a lack of funds constrained the provision of legal aid. As for the freedom of religion, expression and association (articles 18, 19, 21 and 22), there was increased protection for the freedom of expression, she said. While the Constitution guaranteed the principle of freedom of assembly, there was sometimes a problem in balancing respect for freedom against respect for public order.
On the rights of minorities (article 27), she said her country had never registered any special claims from minority groups. Ethnic and religious minorities had the right to practise their own faiths and speak their own languages. Regarding public education on the Convention (article 2) she said campaigns to raise awareness of public freedom and democracy had been undertaken by the Government, the National Human Rights Commission and the local office of OHCHR. “We are far from perfection,” she said.
She went on to point out, however, that like any human undertaking, the protection of human rights and democracy, as well as the consolidation of the rule of law in Togo was in constant flux, as it was everywhere. The recent elections would contribute to relaunching the country’s democracy, she affirmed, adding that reform could only be safeguarded by an accompanying increase in the living situation of citizens. Political rights must be sustained by economic rights, she emphasized, urging development partners to continue to support Togo on its irreversible path to sustainable human development and democracy.
Committee Experts’ Comments and Questions
FABIÁN OMAR SALVIOLI, expert from Argentina, said the Covenant aimed to guarantee human rights and he did not understand why, when asked about the Covenant, the State delegation had talked about international provisions that could be “hyped”. It had also said there was no example of legal procedures relating to the Covenant’s direct application by national courts, although the Committee had expressed concern, after considering Togo’s third report, about that failure. Why had the situation remained the same, despite training activities, almost 10 years later? he asked, suggesting the inclusion of questions on the Covenant in exams for justice officials.
Regarding question 2 (composition, organization and functioning of the National Human Rights Commission), he said that while he was pleased to see the legislative amendment regarding that body, which brought such matters into line with the Paris Principles, he was worried that budget cuts in 2008 had prevented it from organizing missions. The State did not appear to take the National Commission’s decisions into account, he added, citing the death of one person for whom it had recommended an investigation. The recommendation had not been considered. He said he was also pleased to see progress on the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, but there was a need to address torture in the Criminal Code.
He noted that while the State had said there were no cases of torture in Togo, the report of the relevant Special Rapporteur said the country had impunity. He asked whether claims of alleged threats against the wives of people held in one particular case were under investigation. As for point 8 (juvenile detention), he said the “brigade” for minors had changed its composition — a sign of clear progress — and cited the adoption of the children’s code. Beyond that, however, it appeared that minors were detained in centres for older people, he said, asking whether any changes had been made in that regard. He also asked about overcrowding in prisons.
MICHAEL O’FLAHERTY, expert from Ireland, praised the delegation for the quality of “self-criticism”, which was an unusual and good practice that other States might follow. He said he was also impressed by the quality of the submissions by non-governmental organizations and the National Human Rights Commission. Addressing questions 4 and 5 (discrimination against women and violence against women), he said draft legislative responses had shown that a law was being developed, but there was no sense of when it would take effect. Why had there been a delay? he asked.
Turning to non-legal strategies to support women’s place in society, he wondered whether women’s empowerment programmes were reaching out to women, especially in rural areas. What was the Government doing to “wake men up” to the problems of discrimination, or to educate students about their equal status in society? Going on to note that quotas were in place for the recruitment of women to senior public service positions, he asked how they operated and the extent to which they had been effective. Saying he understood that homosexual activity was criminalized under article 88 of the Criminal Code, he requested information about efforts to repeal that legislation, which contravened the Covenant.
Taking up questions 13 and 14 (detention facility conditions), he said the report by Manfred Nowak, the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, highlighted areas requiring attention if the sector was to be reformed, especially vis-à-vis an “unacceptably low” staff-to-prisoner ratios, ministerial control over prisons and the delegation of authority to prisoners over other prisoners. If the last issue was seen as problematic, what was being done to correct it? he asked. He also cited “interesting” information about public access to prisoners, saying the “porte ouverte” (open door) initiative was a good practice that might be taken up by other States.
MARGO WATERVAL, expert from Suriname, focusing on the 2005 presidential election, asked when the National Human Rights Commission would issue its conclusion, and about any monetary and personnel resources that the Government had allocated for the Commission’s investigation into the poll. She also wondered about the status of persons detained in connection with election-related events. What measures had been taken in the aftermath to prohibit all acts of ethnic hatred?
In other areas, she asked how many complaints of torture or ill treatment had been filed against public officials, and whether any officials had been prosecuted for such acts. What penalties had been imposed, if any, on public officials who had committed acts of torture or ill treatment? Turning to question 10 (right to liberty and security of the person and imprisonment for debt), she asked how many times activists had been lawfully arrested in 2010? She also requested a list of incarcerated opposition activists and sympathisers. Finally, she wondered what steps had been taken to ensure that police respected the 48-hour limit for holding people in custody, and to provide adequate reparations and compensations to those detained illegally or for prolonged periods.
CHRISTINE CHANET, expert from France, said she was pleased about the abolition of the death penalty, but surprised that the State said the Covenant was not invoked before the courts. She said she had evidence that the Covenant had indeed been invoked at times, but the courts had taken no notice of it. Why was there no reference to the Covenant in judicial decisions?
Regarding article 88 of the Criminal Code, which penalized homosexual acts, she noted that it remained in force despite plans to remove it. Had there been any prosecutions under the article, and what was the Government’s position on polygamy? she asked. On article 9, she said it appeared not much progress had been made in the area of torture. Mr. Nowak’s report referred to a circular outlining access to a lawyer for 15 minutes, she noted, asking why that important but “woefully insufficient” provision had not been made into law. Furthermore, the issue of custody was governed by the Prosecutor’s office, which was not an independent authority, as required, she noted.
IULIA ANTOANELLA MOTOC, expert from Romania, said she had heard that the commission set up to investigate the 2005 events had not worked effectively and had received no financial input from the Government to carry out its mandate. She had also heard from non-governmental organizations that the speaker of the Lower House of Parliament had denied that the events had occurred. What was the delegation’s position on the matter?
Turning to female genital mutilation, she requested an update on efforts to eradicate the practice. On arbitrary detention and torture, she cited reports by Amnesty International that political activists had been arrested amid fears of torture, and asked for an update on that situation.
HELLEN KELLER, expert from Switzerland, asked about prison conditions and the situation of female prisoners. Citing paragraph 53 of Mr. Nowak’s report, which referred to the creation of a special Justice Ministry body to address that issue, she asked about its status and about efforts to ensure the needs of female prisoners were being met.
Mr. O’FLAHERTY, expert from Ireland, took the floor a second time to point out that the delegation party did not have statistics from 2010 on the number of people who had died in custody. “These are worrying responses on a most serious issue,” he said, asking whether the Government was now gathering figures. All suspicious deaths in custody must be properly investigated, he stressed.
LAZHARI BOUZID, expert from Algeria, rounded out the questions by requesting information about damages awarded in cases under review by the National Human Rights Commission.
YACOBOU KOUMADJO HAMADOU, Minister for Arts and Culture, welcomed the recommendation on investigating the deaths of detainees, saying the Government was aware that the budget of the National Human Rights Commission was insufficient and planned to fight for an increase. However, that would depend on the funding support given to Togo as a least developed country, among other things.
Responding to comments that the State paid no heed to the National Commission’s recommendations, he highlighted the international inquiry carried out under the aegis of the local office of OHCHR, pointing out, however, that two different investigations had produced two contradictory reports, making the situation “rather unclear”. Nevertheless, the Government remained open to further conclusions, including further investigations.
Suggesting that comments about the composition of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission might be unfair, he said its composition had been decided through a consultative process that had included citizens, but not the Government. The latter had provided budgetary support to the Commission, which, while small, was larger than some governmental departments. Because it did not meddle in the Commission’s work, the Government could not provide details of its internal workings, the Minister said.
He went on to note that while domestic law took precedence over international standards, it was being modified to make the Covenant more effective in the Togolese context. He agreed that the domestic law did not define torture, and said it was “unacceptable” to detain people over civil debt. The Government was making efforts to fight such practices, he added. When people were arrested they were accompanied by representatives of civil society, including, in some cases, the President of National Human Rights Commission. All possible measures were taken to ensure that family members and lawyers were able to visit detainees, he said, adding that while the Government did not meddle in the judiciary, it was taking measures to ensure that detainees were held in “appropriate” conditions.
The delegation took on board a comment that the circular allowing lawyers to visit their clients should be made into law, saying the Government would address that matter. Regarding political detainees, he said no labels were applied when people were arrested. It was not just opposition activists who had been arrested in 2010, but also militants of the ruling party, he stressed, adding that all those arrested had been released. As for the unrest in 2005, he said some people remained in detention while others had been released, and the situation was close to resolution. Those still detained may soon be released, although the Government did not control that process.
As part of the reform of the Criminal Code, appropriate sanctions would be applied to all those found guilty of incitement to racial hatred, he said. On the issue of impunity, he underlined the commitments of the Global Political Accord, further noting that anyone who was not satisfied with the Commission’s work could still seek redress in the courts. Under the Government’s policy of building an independent judiciary, it could not speed up or slow down judicial work as doing so would be a threat to Togo’s democracy, he argued.
The Director of Penitentiary Administration and Reinsertion in the Ministry of Justice said the main expert had died in the process of drawing up the draft Criminal Code, and the Government was now trying to recruit a new expert to continue that work.
He said it was true that minors were remanded in a special centre in Lomé, but in other cities they were placed in designated sections. “We don’t really want to keep them in prison,” he said, adding that the preference was to reintegrate them into society. While it was true that prisons were overcrowded, they had been around since the colonial period, he noted. The Government was working to build a new prison in another city to relieve the one in Lomé, he said.
He went on to say that prisons fell under the Ministry of Justice — they were not overseen by three ministries. Prison guards fell under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Security, he said, adding that the Government had recruited 500 guards who would begin training this month. One third of them were women, he pointed out, expressing hope that the recruitment would help resolve the high ratio of prisoners to guards.
As for deaths in detention, he conceded that there had been no statistics before 2010, but information had been gathered in that year. It was also true that no proper investigations had been conducted, and illness-related deaths often occurred.
On a related point, he said the fact that there were not enough guards meant there were problems with order. The circular outlined that guards must be moved around every four months to prevent corruption — a measure that could be improved. Noting that female prisoners were held in better conditions than their male counterparts, he said the Government was working to reintegrate all prisoners, notably by offering sewing, hairdressing and tanning workshops.
He said the new Criminal Code established that either a court or a judge must decide whether a person was placed in remand. Regarding article 88 of the Criminal Code, he emphasized that, as a judge, he could say that no one had ever been arrested or put on trial under that article. “It is not applied,” he reiterated. As for the detention of minors, there was a new law stating that they would no longer be covered by prison authorities and that, under the Children’s Code, all would be done to reintegrate minors into society.
Minister HAMADOU, addressing questions about the status of polygamy, said that in Mali, a draft code on the status of that practice had gone to the National Assembly, where it had then been blocked. “There’s no point in voting for a text which cannot be applied,” he said, adding that work was under way to ensure, through an awareness-raising campaign, that people understood the draft Criminal Code.
As for education to prevent violence against women, men in Togo had fortunately “already woken up” and were fighting for equality, he said, citing one general awareness campaign and another targeting preschool age and other young children.
Responding to a question relating to the Speaker of the National Assembly, he said the latter had publicly apologized for his comments, asserting that they had been taken out of context.
Experts’ Comments and Questions
Mr. O'FLAHERTY, expert from Ireland, in a brief second round of questions referring to the ministries overseeing prisons, he clarified that he had not said three ministries were involved, but that Mr. Nowak had expressed concern about the roles of the Ministry of Security, on the one hand, and the Ministry of Justice on the other. What was the Minister’s view of paragraph 68 of the report? he asked.
He went on to describe the fact that article 88 of the Criminal Code was not enforced as “welcome news”, emphasizing, however, that that did not remove the problem. The Committee had long ago made clear that the existence of prohibition was the problem, not necessarily its enforcement, because it contributed to the marginalization of people in society.
Mr. SALVIOLI, expert from Argentina, added that the State must be able to ask when legislative instruments would be adopted.
Regarding a case in which wives had claimed that they had been forbidden entry into prisons, he noted that no answer had been provided to questions about threats to those wives.
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