Togo elections internet access

Togo elections: President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé must uphold internet access

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On April 29, people in Togo will head to the polls to cast their votes in the regional and legislative elections. Access Now and more than 20 organizations are demanding that the government and all internet service providers (ISPs) operating in the country uphold human rights and ensure unhindered access to the internet throughout the election period.

Access to the internet during key national events such as elections is crucial to civic participation. Authorities in Togo must set a new standard and commit to keeping people online before, during, and after the elections. When authorities cut off access to essential information during elections, they not only impede people’s ability to participate, they also put fairness, credibility, and transparency at risk. Felicia Anthonio #KeepItOn Campaign Manager at Access Now

Togo has a track record of disrupting internet access during critical national events including elections and protests. Authorities deployed internet shutdowns between August and September 2017 to quell pro-democracy protests, the brutal crackdown leading to the death of ten people, and the arrest of 160 protestors. Again in March 2020, authorities shut down the internet during the presidential elections. 

In response to the 2017 shutdowns, a local journalist alongside Access Now, Amnesty International Togo, and five other civil society organizations filed a petition at the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court of Justice claiming the shutdowns violated their human rights. The court ruled that authorities’ decision to shut down the internet violated the right to freedom of expression.

Three years ago, after ruling that internet shutdowns violated our human rights, the ECOWAS Court urged authorities to take all the necessary measures to guarantee non-occurrence of this situation in the future. Throughout this election, authorities must uphold the court’s ruling and #KeepItOn. Jaimee Kokonya, Africa Campaigner at Access Now

The letter signatories urge authorities and ISPs to enact the following recommendations:


  • Ensure that the internet, social media platforms, and other digital communication channels remain open, accessible, and secure throughout Togo, before, during, and after the elections, and during any related civic movements;
  • Refrain from cutting, slowing, or blocking access to the internet, or imposing any future unlawful restrictions on internet access and telecommunications; and
  • Take adequate measures, including the establishment of rights-respecting legislation and policies that align and comply with Togo’s international obligations in matters of human rights.


  • Preserve evidence and disclose demands from Togo’s government pressuring you to disrupt internet access, or to conceal their demands;
  • Publicly disclose details of any internet or online service disruptions, including when they occurred, their status throughout the shutdown, and when they come back online; and
  • Consult and coordinate with civil society and peer companies to push back against government censorship demands, and issue regular transparency reports to safeguard open and secure internet access and to deter future shutdown orders.