20 August 2020
According to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of Togo, there are no dedicated immigration detention centres in the country, and thus it did not answer questions on the GDP Covid-19 survey concerning measures taken to safeguard immigration detainees. However, the commission appeared to indicate that due to border closures, non-citizens stranded in Togo whose visas have expired during the pandemic did not face any administrative measures or sanctions (“ne sont pas inquiétés”).
The first case of Covid-19 in Togo was identified as being a Togolese national who returned to the country on 6 March from Europe via Benin. By 31 July, there had been 908 reported cases in the country and 18 related deaths. According to the Togolese government, 11,968 refugees are currently living in the country; UNHCR and partner agencies have since the start of the pandemic reportedly provided various forms of assistance, including donations of food, water, masks, disinfectant gel, and cleaning materials.
In its response to the GDP survey, the National Human Rights Commission said that “illegal migrants” are required to seek to regularise their situation in order to undertake “legal activities.” Those who fail to regularise are told to leave the country within a “reasonable delay” rather than face “imprisonment.” However, the commission did not indicate what remedies are pursued in cases where people refuse or are unable to leave the country after being ordered to do so.
Many of these details were previously reported by the Togolese Ministry of Public Service, Labour, Administrative Reform and Social Protection, in March 2019, as part of its submission to the UN Committee on Migrant Workers’ questionnaire concerning “General Comment No. 5 on Migrants’ Rights to Liberty and Freedom from Arbitrary Detention Questionnaire.” The ministry said that immigration detention in Togo did not exist, saying that the country instead favours the regularisation of undocumented migrants. It also said that there were no immigration detention centres in the country as well as no criminal sanctions for irregular entry or stay in Togo “for refugees or asylum seekers, arriving directly from a country where their life or freedom was threatened,” in accordance with Article 21 Law N° 2016 - 021 of 24 August 2016. However, similar to the National Human Rights Commission’s response to the GDP Covid-19 survey, the ministry failed to provide any information about measures taken in cases where people refuse or are unable to leave the country after being ordered to do so.
- WorldOmeter, “Covid-19 Coronavirus Pandemic,” accessed on 31 July 2020, https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/
- Togolese Ministry of Public Service, Labour, Administrative Reform and Social Protection, “Response to Draft General Comment No. 5 on Migrants’ Rights to Liberty and Freedom from Arbitrary Detention Questionnaire,” 29 March 2019, https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CMW/Pages/GC5.aspx
- République Togolaise, “Assistance aux Réfugiés,” 25 June 2020, https://www.republicoftogo.com//Toutes-les-rubriques/Cooperation/Assistance-aux-refugies
- Protective Equipment Including Masks, Disinfectant Gel, Soap, and Food Given to UNHCR to Distribute, (UNHCR, "Assistance Aux Réfugiés," République Togolaise, 25 June 2020, https://www.republicoftogo.com//Toutes-les-rubriques/Cooperation/Assistance-aux-refugies)
- National Human Rights Commission of Togo (Commission Nationale des Droits de l’Homme), Global Detention Project’s Covid-19 survey, 19 August 2020, https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe16r5vVHGhg8AmhOBHG-LzW_wTKk_nlPNt3RiVfjZzapnBsQ/viewform