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Togolese Journalists Protest Beating of Colleague

Journalists in Togo marched in the capital in protest against the weekend beating of one of their colleagues. They are demanding a thorough investigation of the incident, which has left the publisher of an opposition weekly in the hospital.

A group of journalists and human-rights activists shouted the words "freedom of the press" as they marched towards Togo's communications ministry in Lome.

They were protesting the attack Sunday on journalist Dimas Dzikodo.

According to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, Mr. Dzikodo, who publishes a weekly newspaper often critical of the government, was knocked off his motorcycle and beaten. His unidentified attackers then forced him to drink an unknown liquid that he was able to spit out.

A spokesman for Togo's Movement of Journalists for Human Rights Carlos Ketohou said the attack is inexcusable. "We journalists for human rights, we are marching this morning with human-rights defenders to protest against this thing, and to tell them that its not normal that, in a democratic country, we have this situation," said Carlos Ketohou.

He says it is the job of the government to create an atmosphere in which journalists can work freely. "All journalists must work in security," he said. "They [must] not be beaten. They [must] not be attacked."

In 2003, Mr. Dzikodo was arrested in an Internet café, where he was scanning photos of people allegedly abused by police during presidential elections. Mr. Dzikodo was jailed for two weeks following the incident.

Communications Minister Kokou Tozoun said the government had nothing to do with the weekend attack on Mr. Dzikodo. Mr. Tozoun says the government condemned and deplored the incident. He said nothing justified physical attacks on journalists.

Togolese journalists and human-rights activists, along with the Committee to Protect Journalists, are calling for authorities to open an inquiry into Mr. Dzikodo's beating.