- Eyadema Gnassingbe, President from 1963 -2005; Source: Wikimedia Commons
The commission follows the example of South Africa, a country which established a truth commission after apartheid which formed part of the transitional justice process. Headed by Catholic Bishop Nicodeme Barriagh, the commission is not empowered to judge or convict, but it hopes to work towards pardon and coming to terms with the past. It is strongly supported by the United Nations Human Rights Bureau in Togo.
Togo’s political history between 1958 and 2005, the time during which a large scale of human rights violations was allegedly committed, is marked by two authoritarian presidents. Sylvanus Olympio led the country from 1958 until his assassination in 1963 and was followed by Eyadema Gnassingbe. He was in power until his death in 2005. His son, Faure Gnassigbe was installed as his successor during a violent turmoil in 2005 in which at least 500 people are believed to have died.
Due to the severity of some stories it is foreseen that not all hearings will be heard publicly. Witnesses, during the first hearings, have already reported to the commission of killings, rape and cruel forms of torture. The commission will propose ways of compensation to the victims once the testimonies have been comprehensively gathered.