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Togo 2017 Crime & Safety Report

Africa > Togo; Africa > Togo > Lome

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

U.S. Embassy Lomé does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The ACS Unit cannot recommend a particular individual or location and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service provided.

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED LOME AS BEING A CRITICAL-THREAT LOCATION FOR CRIME DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.

Please review OSAC’s Togo-specific webpage for proprietary analytic reports, Consular Messages, and contact information.

Crime Threats

In recent years, Togo has seen high levels of violent crime. Incidents have included the use of machetes, knives, firearms, and makeshift weapons, as well as the use of ruses/trickery to lure in a victim. There have been sophisticated armed robberies, often committed by organized transnational criminal groups. Criminals themselves are sometimes targeted for vigilante justice or lynching.

Pickpocketing incidents and theft are common, especially along the beach and in the market areas of Lomé. Residential and business burglaries are frequent in Lomé. There are incidents of carjackings and other violent crime on the roads. Foreigners are targeted for robbery. Visitors should be particularly aware when coming/going from hotels, offices, banks, and residences. You should closely monitor your surroundings when using ATMs because of petty theft during/after ATM usage. In addition, individuals should only use ATMs during the day and choose ATMs located near security guards.

Cybersecurity Issues

Cybercrimes and fake payoff/investment (so-called 419) scams continue to be a concern. Perpetrators of business fraud often target foreigners, including U.S. citizens. Formerly associated with Nigeria, these fraud schemes are now prevalent throughout West Africa, including Togo, and pose both financial loss and physical harm. An increasing number of U.S. citizens have been targets, resulting in the loss of considerable money. Scam operations begin with an unsolicited communication (e-mail, Facebook) from an unknown individual who describes a situation that promises quick financial gain, often by assisting in the transfer of a large sum of money or valuables out of the country. Other e-mail scams involve an individual claiming to be a U.S. citizen who is trapped in Togo and needs financial assistance to return to the U.S. or receive urgent medical care. More sophisticated scams include targeting U.S. businesses and ordering a large amount of their product contingent on the U.S. business providing banking information or paying legal fees.

Areas of Concern

Embassy staff members are strongly encouraged to avoid the public beaches due to crime (thefts, robberies) and safety concerns. Foreigners are targeted quickly, even at daytime.

Individuals should also avoid certain areas within Lomé at night, including Boulevard du Mono (beach road) and the Ghana-Togo border. The Embassy recommends that visitors do not go to the Grand Marché area alone during the day and avoid the area altogether in the evenings.

Transportation-Safety Situation

Road Safety and Road Conditions

Driving conditions are hazardous due to the presence of pedestrians, the prevalence of motorcycles that often disregard traffic laws, disorderly drivers, livestock on the roadways, and the poor condition of the roads. Road conditions in Lomé are acceptable but deteriorate quickly outside of Lomé. Driving outside of Lomé after dark is prohibited for official Americans and only approved on a case to case basis.

Public Transportation Conditions

Taxis remain a significant safety concern. Theft while riding in taxis is common, as thieves steal bags, wallets, and passports. Do not share taxicabs with strangers. When using taxis, negotiate before you get in and insist that the driver does not stop for additional passengers.  

Public transportation is unreliable; the vehicles are typically old and not well maintained, and traffic laws are not followed. Motorcycles and motorcycle taxis have a significantly higher accident, injury, and mortality rate. Official Americans are not prohibited from using public transportation and taxis but are strongly encouraged to avoid them due to safety and crime concerns.

Aviation/Airport Conditions

Although limited, airline travel is largely reliable, and the security measures to screen passengers are satisfactory. The only international airport in Togo is in Lomé. A new terminal was completed in 2016. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Togo’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization aviation safety standards and has made recommendations to improve procedural security.

Terrorism Threat

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED LOME AS BEING A MEDIUM-THREAT LOCATION FOR TERRORIST ACTIVITY DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.

Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns

After the terrorist attacks in the region in late 2015 and early 2016, the government of Togo took proactive steps to secure soft targets and the infrastructure. This more visible role in security is meant to reassure businesses that the government is taking active steps to ensure their safety. However, government security resources are limited, and there is little counter-terrorism experience in Togo. Togo has extremely porous borders and a limited capability to detect or intercept terrorists entering the country or a home-grown extremist.

Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED LOME AS BEING A HIGH-THREAT LOCATION FOR POLITICAL VIOLENCE DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.

Civil Unrest

Demonstrations, strikes, marches, and public protests are common and unpredictable. They often lead to conflict or violence, including burning vehicles and other objects, stone throwing, and the use of tear gas and other crowd control techniques. Protests in Mango in late 2015 led to the death of a law enforcement officer and several protestors.

Post Specific Concerns

Critical Infrastructure

There are a few serious hazards in Togo, such as localized industrial fires, chemical spills, the possibility of a HAZMAT leak at the port, fuel/oil spills at nearby factories in the industrial park and/or due to transportation of petroleum products and other chemicals overland. Overall, however, these types of hazards/risks are relatively uncommon.

Economic Concerns

Counterfeit goods (pharmaceuticals, tobacco products) are trafficked into Togo.

Privacy Concerns

Foreigners will receive a fair amount of unwanted attention in Togo.

Personal Identity Concerns

Homosexuality is criminalized in Togo. Penalties include fines and up to three years in prison. For more detailed information about LGBT rights, review the State Department’s annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.

Drug-related Crimes

There are not many drug-related violent crimes. However, narcotics are trafficked into Togo. Lomé’s international airport is used by traffickers as a hub for bringing drugs into the region for transport to other parts of Africa.

Police Response

Persons violating Togo’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. If you break laws in Togo, your U.S. passport will not help you avoid arrest or prosecution.

How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment

One should always be respectful and avoid confrontation when interacting with the police. If you are arrested and imprisoned, inform the authorities that you are a U.S. citizen and ask to contact the U.S. Embassy so that the Embassy is aware that you have been imprisoned and can render American citizens’ services. For emergency consular assistance, U.S. citizens may reach the U.S. Embassy at +(228) 22-61-54-70

Crime Victim Assistance

The Consular Section’s ACS Unit can provide standard consular services for U.S. citizens, including services for those who are arrested and detained.

Emergency (Togo-wide):

Police - 117

Gendarmerie - 172

Fire Brigade – 118

Kpalime Police: 2441 0053 Gendarmerie: 2441 0108 or 2441 0104

Kara Police: 2660 6052 Gendarmerie: 2660 6281 or 2660 6161

Atakpame Police: 2440 0101 or 2440 0123 Gendarmerie: 2440 0388 or 2440 0475

Sokode Police: 2550 0043 Gendarmerie: 2550 0090

Dapaong Police: 2770 8031 or 2770 0032 Gendarmerie: 2770 8413

Police/Security Agencies

Policing is based on the French system. There is a national gendarmerie, which is part of the armed forces and is directed by the Minister of Defense; a national police force under the authority of the Minister of Interior Security and Civil Protection; and the police of Lomé, responsible for policing the neighborhoods of the capital. All units play a role and share loosely defined responsibilities for the security of the country, and police and gendarmes often work together. Military personnel are sometimes assigned to work in or with police and gendarme personnel for security matters.

Medical Emergencies

Medical facilities are limited and of very poor quality; emergency medical care is inadequate. Medical care is substandard, including in major cities. Medical services are not up to American standards. Patients may encounter shortages of routine medications and supplies, and counterfeit medications are a frequent problem. Emergency medical services are extremely limited in response time, resources, and capacity. Emergency transport is often carried out by taxis and motorcycles, and payment is sometimes necessary before transport can occur.

Credit cards are not an acceptable form of payment for medical services. Medical care and medicine typically require advance payment in cash.

Contact Information for Available Medical Services

The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of English-speaking doctors.

Insurance Guidance

Visitors are advised to review their health insurance plan to determine what medical services would be covered in Togo and to consider purchasing travel health and medical evacuation insurance. It is advisable to have medical evacuation insurance. In the case of medical emergency, most mission personnel are evacuated to South Africa, the UK, or other Western European locations.

Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance

All visitors are advised to take malaria prophylaxis.

The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Togo.

OSAC Country Council Information

The Embassy recently restarted OSAC Lomé. The Regional Security Officer (RSO) serves as the main points of contact for meetings. Please contact OSAC’s Africa team if you would like to be put in touch with the RSO.  

U.S. Embassy Location and Contact Information

Embassy Address and Hours of Operation

U.S. Embassy Lomé
4332 Boulevard Eyadema,
Cité OUA, B.P. 852
Lomé, Togo

Hours of Operation: M-TH: 0730-1700, Fr:0730-1230

Embassy Contact Numbers

Phone Operator: +(228) 22-61-54-70

Emergency After-Hours: +(228) 22-61-54-70

Marine Post 1: +(228) 22-61-54-70 ext. 4403

Regional Security Office: +(228) 22-61-54-70 ext. 4467 or 4468

Website: https://togo.usembassy.gov/

Embassy Guidance

U.S. citizens traveling in Togo are encouraged to register in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP is a free service that helps the U.S. Embassy disseminate information about safety conditions and contact travelers in an emergency.

Additional Resources

Togo Country Information Sheet