The sub-regional rights body, the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), has supported Togo's media groups for staging a news blackout in protest against a new law recently passed by the country’s parliament, PANA reports Wednesday.
MFWA, in a statement signed by its executive director, Prof.Kwame Karikari, revealed that the news blackout was the first of a three-day protest against the passage of the new restrictive law.
The new law is said to have granted Togo's statutory media regulatory body, the High Authority for Broadcasting and Communication (HAAC), 'discretionary powers to impose sanctions on the media without recourse to judicial processes'.
As part of the protests, journalists are said to have planned wearing red clothes or red headbands as well as demonstrate in front of Togo's Presidential Palace on 14 March.
'MFWA, while urging all the journalists not to relent on their efforts to get this law withdrawn, reiterates its call on the Togolese government to improve the freedom of expression and media rights environment in the country,' the statement highlighted.
According to the rights body, most of the media outlets are observing the news black out except the state-owned newspaper and three other pro-government newspapers.
Radio stations also reportedly stopped normal programming and resorted to playing only music.
Meanwhile, MFWA further pointed out that the new law is said to contravene Togolese Constitution which states that -“the media cannot be subjected to any preliminary authorisation, be cautioned or censored or other barriers. No publication shall be banned from circulation except by virtue of a court decision.”