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Togolese Republic[1] [print]

Last edited: May 2006

 

Summary and Analysis

 

Togo ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child on May 23, 1990. The Convention and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ratified May 5, 1998) are authoritative law in Togo, because of a constitutional provision granting precedence to international treaties.[2]

 

Children in the Togolese Republic (“Togo”) have the right to express their views in court, but only if the court deems it “convenient.” In most child protection proceedings in Togo, the child is questioned by the judge as to her views. This is quite remarkable given the very limited ability of children to express their views in practically every other aspect of their lives, including government-run schools. Although Togo has significant bureaucracy in place to promote child protection, it faces a lack of resources, and little public cooperation, due to a very firmly entrenched and widely-held traditional value-system which regards children as property.

 

Togo's Child Protection laws are currently in a state of significant revision, and, like many other parts of Togolese law, are moving sharply in the direction of compliance with international treaties and standards. Indeed, a provision new to the Togolese constitution gives international treaties and accords highest authority in the legal hierarchy. This provision is symbolic of the government's efforts to harmonize their laws with the standards of the international community.

 

A draft Child's Code was finalized in 2001. It is currently undergoing new revisions partially due to concerns by the United Nations that it was still in conflict with the Convention. The Child Code remains an active project, and was on Parliament's agenda no less recently than October 27, 2005. The pending Child's Code would implement a child protection system which grants the child the right to be heard by the judge.

 

There are two institutions responsible for child protection: the Ministry for Social Affairs, the Advancement of Women and the Protection of Children, and the national Committee for the Protection and Promotion of Children's Rights. The Ministry for Social Affairs includes the Department for the Protection of the Family and Children, charged with preventing child abuse. The Committee for the Protection and Promotion of Children's rights exists to inform the public of the rights of the child, to defend the rights of the child, and to ensure compliance with the recommendations of the World Summit for Children, including the Convention.

 

Sources of Law (In Order of Authority)

 

Original Text

 

International Law

 

Convention relative aux droits de l'enfant, [3] ratified May 23, 1990

 

Article 12

1. Les Etats parties garantissent à l'enfant qui est capable de discernement le droit d'exprimer librement son opinion sur toute question l'intéressant, les opinions de l'enfant étant dûment prises en considération eu égard à son âge et à son degré de maturité.

 

2. A cette fin, on donnera notamment à l'enfant la possibilité d'être entendu dans toute procédure judiciaire ou administrative l'intéressant, soit directement, soit par l'intermédiaire d'un représentant ou d'une organisation approprié, de façon compatible avec les règles de procédure de la législation nationale.

 

Regional Agreements

 

Charte Africaine des Droits et du Bein-etre de l'Enfant,[4] signed Feb. 27, 1992, ratified Apr. 17, 1997

 

Article 4.  Interet Superieur de L'Enfant

2. Dans toute procédure judiciaire ou administrative affectant un enfant qui est capable de communiquer, on fera en sorte que les vues de l'enfant puissent être entendues soit directement, soit par le truchement d'un représentant impartial qui prendra part à la procédure, et ses vues seront prises en considération par l'autorité compétente, conformément aux dispositions des lois applicables en la matière.

 

Article 7.  Liberte d'Expression

Tout enfant qui est capable de communiquer se verra garantir le droit d'exprimer ses opinions librement dans tous les domaines et de faire connaître ses opinions, sous réserve des restrictions prévues par la loi.

 

Statutes

 

Code de Procedure[5]

CHAPITRE II: DES INSTANCES RELATIVES A L'AUTORITE PARENTALE

Art. 420 – Les instances en délégation, restitution, déchéance ou retrait partiel de l'autorité parentale sont instruites et jugées en chambre du conseil, le ministre public entendu.  

Les père et mère ou tuteur du mineur en cause doivent être convoqués pour être personnellement entendus. Le mineur peut être entendu si le Tribunal estime opportun.  

Art. 421 – L'action en délégation, déchéance ou retrait d'autorité parentale est introduite par une requête énonçant les faits et accompagnée des pièces justificatives. 

Le ministère public fait procéder à une enquête sur la situation de la famille du mineur, la moralité de ses parents qui sont invités à présenter leurs observations.

Art. 422 – Le Tribunal compétent est celui du domicile ou de la résidence effective des mineurs au moment de l'introduction de l'action.

Translation

International Law

 

Convention on the Rights of the Child,[6]  ratified May 23, 1990.

 

Article 12

 

1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.

2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.

 

Regional Agreements

 

African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child,[7] signed Feb. 27, 1992, ratified Apr. 17, 1997.

 

Article 4.  Best Interests of the Child

….

2. In all judicial or administrative proceedings affecting a child who is capable of communicating his/her own views, an opportunity shall be provided for the views of the child to be heard either directly or through an impartial representative as a party to the proceedings, and those views shall be taken into consideration by the relevant authority in accordance with the provisions of appropriate law.

 

Article 7. Freedom of Expression

Every child who is capable of communicating his or her own views shall be assured the rights to express his opinions freely in all matters and to disseminate his opinions subject to such restrictions as are prescribed by laws.

 

Statutes

 

Code of Procedure[8]

Chapter II : On Requests Related to Parental Authority

Art. 420 – Requests to delegate, return, forfeit, or partly withdraw parental authroity are examined and decided in the chamber of council, after the public ministry has been heard.

The father and mother or tutor of the minor in question must be summoned so they can be heard personally. The minor can be heard if the court finds it suitable.

Art. 421 – The procedure to delegate, forfeit, or withdraw parental authority is begun by a request stating the facts that is accompanied by evidence.

The public ministry begins an investigation on the situation of the family of the minor and the morality of her parents that are invited to present their observations.

Art. 422 – The competent court is the one of the domicile or effective residence of the minors at the time the proceeding is begun.

 

Local Contact Information

 

Madame Esseh-Yovo Dédé

Collectif des ONG de Protection des Droits de l'Enfant

+22 89 17 17 96

 



Endnotes

[1] This page is also available as a .pdf Document, and Word Document.

[2] Article 140 of the Constitution, available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[3] G.A. Res. 44/125, U.N. GAOR, 44th Session, Supp. No. 49, U.N. Doc. A/44/736 (1989), available at http://www.ohchr.org/french/law/crc.htm.

[4] Charte Africaine des Droits et du Bein-etre de l'Enfant, opened for signature July 11, 1990, OAU Doc. CAB/LEG/24.9/49, available at http://www.africa-union.org/ .

[5] DECRET N° 82-50  du 15 mars 1982 portant Code de procédure civile  available at http://www.togoforum.com/Societe/DS/DROIT/CPC.htm, and also Togo_CP.T

[6] G.A. Res. 44/125, U.N. GAOR, 44th Session, Supp. No. 49, U.N. Doc. A/44/736 (1989), available at http://www.ohchr.org/english/law/crc.htm.

[7] African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, opened for signature July 11, 1990, OAU Doc. CAB/LEG/24.9/49, available at http://www.africa-union.org/.

[8]  Unofficial translation by a translator provided by Yale Law School.

 

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