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Catholic Bishops in Togo Concerned about Recent “series of arrests” by Government

Members of the Episcopal Conference of Togo (CET)/ Credit: Episcopal Conference of Togo (CET)

Catholic Bishops in Togo have, in a collective statement, expressed concerns about the recent “series of arrests” by the government of the West African nation, and called for the release of those detained.

In the statement issued Wednesday, December 15, members of the Episcopal Conference of Togo (CET) say, “The series of arrests of people, for variously appreciated reasons, which we have been witnessing recently, is causing fear among the population.”

“These arrested people are added to others who have been arrested for some time and who are in detention in conditions that are often very difficult, even inhuman,” Catholic Bishops in Togo say.

CET members note that the arbitrary arrests “obviously create desolation and resentment in families and communities, which is detrimental to peace and social cohesion.”

“Faced with this situation, the Bishops in Togo express their concern and plead for their release,” the Catholic Church leaders in Togo say in their December 15 collective statement.

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On December 9, national police officers  arrested journalists Ferdinand Ayité  and Joël Egah  and are pursuing legal action against Isidore Kouwonou for their participation in a L’Alternative broadcast, according to media reports.

During the broadcast, the three journalists discussed the alleged corruption of two Togolese government ministers.

Political activist Jean-Paul Omolou has been under arrest since November 4. These arrests have attracted condemnations by civil society organizations and the media.

In their December 15 collective statement signed by CET President Bishop Benoît Alowonou, Catholic Bishops in Togo say, “In keeping with the permanent quest for peace of hearts and peaceful cohabitation between the inhabitants of the same nation, the Bishops of Togo, like watchmen, closely follow the socio-political situation of our country.”

“In a few days, the whole world and Christians in particular, will commemorate the Nativity of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace,” they say in reference to Christmas, and add making reference to Jesus Christ, “It is He who willed for the whole of humanity, a true peace; not the peace that comes from the world, but that which comes from God.”

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CET members express the confidence that their appeal for the release of those detained by government “will be heard.”

They implore God's blessing on “our dear country and its inhabitants and address to all their wishes of love, peace and happiness.”