Amegandjin Mawule comes from Togo, and is a member of the Alliance Nationale pour le Changementparty (ANC, National Alliance for Change), in opposition to the current government lead by Faure Gnassingbé. The party was also a candidate in the parliamentary elections held on 25 July 2013.
The association Città Migrante reports that in March, Mawule was abducted from his home in Togo and taken to a secret prison, where he was subjected to ill-treatment and torture because of his political position, critical of the government.
The Togolese government has been denounced by Amnesty International for torture and other ill-treatment, using preventive detention against individuals and excessive force against opposition demonstrations, threatening human rights activists, and poor prison conditions.
Mawule managed to escape from prison with the assistance of others, and left the country. Travel to Italy was then arranged and in May he reached Reggio Emilia.
At the train station in Reggio he was helped by people who took him to the association Città Migrante, where there is an active help desk for migrants. Here, two volunteer “street lawyers” listened to his story and offered him legal protection, help in obtaining political refugee status. In the meantime, he was given accommodation in a squatted house, where there are also refugees from Libya.
However, officers from the Reggio Emilia central police station, where Mawule went with his lawyers in June to apply for asylum, have now arrested him and he is being held in prison. It appears that an international warrant for his arrest has been issued by the Republic of Togo, for alleged crimes committed in Togo, such as theft and embezzlement.
According to the two lawyers, who have been able to speak to the ANC party office in Togo, these charges are merely a pretext in order for the Togolese government to obtain the extradition of a political opponent. However, even if Mawule were guilty, the actual risk of being subjected to persecution or ill-treatment would be enough to stop the extradition process (art. 698 of the Italian Penal Code)
Amegandjin Mawule is still in jail in Reggio Emilia, awaiting the decision of the authorities.