Two Togolese journalists, Loic Lawson, the editor of Flambeau des Democrates, and Anani Sossou, a freelance journalist, found themselves in prison on Wednesday, facing charges of defaming Housing Minister Kodjo Adedze on social media.
The accusation stemmed from their claim that the minister possessed a sum of 400 milion FCFA (exceeding 600,000 USD), allegedly stolen from his residence. The minister, after initially reporting the burglary without disclosing the stolen amount, subsequently filed a complaint against Lawson and Sossou.
“The two journalists were dropped off at the prison on Wednesday at around 10 a.m,” announced Magloire Teko Kinvi, editor-in-chief of Le Flambeau des Democrates.
Highlighting the gravity of the situation, the international francophone press union, UPF, issued a press release on Tuesday, urging the immediate release of the two journalists. It’s noteworthy that Lawson holds the position of president in the Togolese section of the UPF.
In contrast to neighboring countries, Togo’s media law, implemented this year, does not extend its jurisdiction to cover social media. This means that when dealing with online offenses, including those on social media platforms, prosecutions in Togo are governed by the broader criminal code rather than the specific regulations outlined in the media law.