(CESCR, Geneva, Switzerland, May 4, 2001)
The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights this morning reviewed the situation of the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Togo in absence of a submitted report as required by the Committee.
Committee Expert Eibe Riedel, the Rapporteur on Togo, said the Committee had decided to proceed with a review despite not having received a report from Togo. The Government of Togo was told well in advance that the Committee would consider the situation there, and until recently, the Secretariat had requested that a Government representative be present. Togo chose not to send anyone. Togo became a State Party to the Covenant in 1984, but has not yet filed its initial report.
Mr. Riedel said the Commission on Human Rights had sent a Commission of Inquiry to Togo, and its report said it had found gross and massive violations of human rights there, including instances of torture, rape, and disappeared and murdered persons. There were a few positive aspects that could be recognized. One of them was a technical cooperation project that had been started with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to strengthen the rule of law.
Speaking on subjects of concern, Mr. Riedel said the situation of women in the society was very bad, particularly with relation to education, pension benefits and inheritance. There was discrimination on ethnicity, particularly the discrimination between southerners and northerners. There were ethnic clashes. Trafficking in women and children was a problem. Some children were sold into servitude when they were as young as two years old. There was an alarming increase in the rate of AIDS cases.
Mr. Riedel suggested that the Committee recommend that Togo partake in a constructive dialogue with the Committee, and utilize the technical and advisory services offered by the Office of the High Commissioner. The Government should also address large-scale discrimination, particularly with regard to women and girls. The Government should take immediate action to deal with the serious health and economic development situations. It was also suggested that the specialized agencies of the United Nations should be invited to supply to the Committee supplementary information regarding the situation in Togo.