THE 2015 REPORT ON MIGRANTS RIGHTS IN TOGO
The year 2015 saw the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the rights of all migrant workers and their family members. For this occasion, and seeking to secure an increased consideration of migrant rights and to motivate a migration policy that will bring development to the Togolese state, the association Visions Solidaires publishes a second report on migrants rights in Togo which follows from the previous one issued in 2013. This fifty page inventory of migration law in Togo offers a concise approach to the whole of legal norms pertaining to migration as well as their practical enforcement. For comprehension purposes, it classifies migrants into 10 categories based on:
- The content of the legal norms
- Their practical reach
- The recommendations that Visions Solidaires drew from its analysis.
What with participative observation, encounters with key actors in migration in Togo – state and associative alike-, along with a meticulous document review, the report aims to expose the facts as faithfully as possible and favours a practical approach to Togolose law. In this sense, it tends to highlight the sometimes tremendous discrepancy between the legal theory and the situation in which lie the people affected by migration law in Togo.
1/ Refugees: The main international conventions relating to refugees were ratified by Togo. But for all that, the internal enforcement measures are too poor and fail to protect the people affected by them. The draft bill on refugee status, which has been left pending at the National Assembly for several years, must be adopted, and the autonomisation process of Ivorian refugees from the camp of Avépozo thoroughly organised.
2/ The Togolese Diaspora: The relations between the government and its Diaspora have improved over the past few years, through the repeal of the visa requirement to enter Togo, the recourse to the expertise of the Diaspora, the launch of initiatives to award the successes of the Diaspora, and the organisation of an annual campaign to give them a warm welcome at the dawn of the summer holidays. This dynamic must be emphasised, especially through the implementation of a stimulating investment policy and the recognition of dual citizenship and the right to vote.
3/ Migrant workers: A majority of migrants from the county who came to work in Lomé are satisfied with the conditions. However the fate of migrant workers further north on roadwork sites remains problematic. Even though some efforts have been made over the course of the past few weeks, Visions Solidaires once again stresses the necessity of having the 1990 convention on the rights of all migrant workers and their family members ratified, in order to guarantee all migrant workers the full respect of their rights and draw foreign investments in the process.
4/ Victims of migrant and human trafficking: Through the adoption of the new penal code last November, the legal framework was further strengthened. An efficient struggle against migrant and human trafficking implies the integration of dispositions into the legislative framework that guarantee the protection of adult victims seeing as only children are currently protected by the Togolese legislation. Visions Solidaires holds that an improved coordination between the actors involved is needed to broaden the scope of their activities.
5/ Academic mobility: The Togolese youth, especially students, are also victims of migration law. They are offered very few opportunities to study abroad, despite a recent decision by the European Court of Justice to grant them a “right” to admission to a stay abroad. The provisioning of a guarantee fund at a national level is necessary in order to facilitate the students’ mobility whilst implementing an attractive policy to motivate their come back.
6/ Free movement and visa issues: Hindered mobility of Togolese nationals abroad because of visa procurement procedures made harder at foreign embassies, free movement with the ECOWAS zone, the legislation surrounding the entry of migrants into the Togolese territory…Visions Solidaires has proved that there remain some efforts to be made by Togo at different levels. The impending launch of an e-visa system has been hailed by the authorities as a step forward for reducing hindrances to mobility at the Togolese borders.
7/ Returned migrants: Readmission agreements signed by African countries with third countries are a source of infringement on migrant rights. Many of them complain about the conditions surrounding their repatriation and the fact that they are given too little care on their arrival to fully reintegrate into their society of origin. The Togolese government is under much pressure from EU countries for the signature of a migrant readmission agreement. The report notes that relevant state actors inadequately deal with Togolese nationals repatriated by force.
8/ The internally displaced: In view of current climate changes, the number of displaced people is due to rise over the next few years. With the Kampala Convention ratified by Togo, it is time to take judicious and ambitious internal enforcement measures to organise the future of the thousands of Togolese who are regular or future victims of natural disasters and conflicts that strike the area.
9/ Transhumance: The year 2015 marked a breakthrough in transhumance management through the implementation of such innovative measures as institutionalised multi-party meetings and the adoption of a national plan. These measures paid off but the “zero decease” goal has not been reached. This dynamic must therefore be pursued and involve state actors as much as other concerned parties, especially farmers and nomadic breeders.
10/ The Togolese nationality: Numerous are the difficulties that migrants encounter in the acquisition, enjoyment and loss of nationality. Some defaults prevent foreign nationals present on Togolese soil from benefitting from the nationality and hence the citizenship. Visions Solidaires calls on the Members of Parliament to speed up the adoption of the new nationality law.
Visions Solidaires is delighted that efforts have been made over the past few years to improve the living conditions and migrants’ rights in Togo. However, a number of persistent shortcomings that have been exposed throughout the integral version of the report are evidence of the necessity to maintain efforts so as to guarantee migrants the full use of their rights. Visions Solidaires invites migration actors to read and take account of the content and the recommendations of its report in order to have an overview of the migration issues in Togo in 2015 and to be able to act efficiently in return. With migratory flows bound to intensify over the next few years, a strong and ambitious legal response would lay the foundations for the creation of a migratory policy boosting economic growth in Togo, and would be a decisive step towards the realisation of our joint project which consists in giving migration another way of life.