Togo media observe blackout to protest harsh media law

Last month, the national assembly passed a legislation giving sweeping administrative and disciplinary powers to the media regulatory body, HAAC.

The overwhelming majority of the Togolese media on Tuesday observed a blackout to protest against the law strengthening the administrative and disciplinary powers of the Supreme Audiovisual and Communication Authority (HAAC), the media regulatory body.

The newsstands had only the government daily, Togo Presse, and three newspapers close to the ruling majority, while privately-owned radio stations suspended their programmes and played only music.

On February 19, the national assembly passed a legislation giving sweeping administrative and disciplinary powers to the media regulatory body.

The law gives HAAC the power to suspend the publication of newspapers and radio and television programmes, impose financial penalties, withdraw the press card and seize the broadcast antenna of radio stations without resorting to the courts as was stipulated in the previous law.

The only possibility offered to the media is to resort to the administrative chamber of the Supreme Court.

Whereas media organisations describe the law as a “real eroding of press freedom in Togo,” the Togolese authorities said it would “give powers to HAAC to mitigate the excesses noted in the media world.”

In addition to the press blackout day, media organisations have called on journalists and Togolese people as a whole to demand for freedom of expression and the media in the West African country by dressing in red or carrying red banners on Wednesday.

On Thursday, journalists are called on to “massively mobilise” to stage a sit-in in front of the presidency from 0800 to1200 GMT.

(PANA/NAN)

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