Benin Benin: Promotion Mission, 2000

Dates:7 - 11 August 2000
Session:28th Ordinary Session
23 October - 6 November 2000. Cotonou, Benin
Commissioner: Jainaba Johm

Commissioner Jainaba Johm who is the Commissioner in charge of the Republic of Benin embarked on a promotional mission to Benin from 7 to 11 of August 2000. Mr. Robert Kotchani, Legal Officer for Promotional Activities at the Secretariat of the Commission accompanied and assisted her during her mission.

The terms of reference of the mission to the Republic of Benin were as follows:
  1. Discuss with the Government of Benin the general situation of human rights in Benin;
  2. Draw the attention of the Benin authorities to the respect of their obligations stemming from the provisions of the African Charter but more especially article 62. Benin ratified the Charter on 20/01/1986;
  3. Given that Benin had submitted an up to date report to the Commission, the Commissioner will use this opportunity to sensitise the authorities so that the report is presented to the Commission at the forthcoming session scheduled to take place in Cotonou from 23rd October to 6th November 2000;
  4. Promote human rights in general by meeting and briefing the NGO community, the Benin Bar Association, Government departments among others and explaining to them the work of the Commission;
  5. Work toward establishing formal co-operation and exchange of information;
  6. Visiting prisons in Cotonou and Porto-Novo to assess to what extent the conditions of detention match international standards.
Conclusions

Through frank and open discussions that the mission team had with heads of government department which included that of the prisons, the office of the president, the Ministry of justice, legislation and human rights, the Ministry of social welfare and protection of the family, some parliamentarians, the president of the Bar association, the NGO community as well as the Gendarmerie and some individuals, it can be said that the human rights situation in Benin is quite satisfactory. The team noticed that freedom of expression and the independence of the judiciary were rights that were being enjoyed fully. However the rights of women, children and prisoners needs to be improved upon and the human rights situation generally in Benin needs to be further strengthened by the allocation of adequate means to the vital sectors of Government.

Recommendations

Convinced of the need for Benin to improve on the prevailing human rights situation the Commissioner is making the following recommendations:
  • The Government of Benin should keep on guaranteeing the rights and freedoms stated in the African Charter on Human and People's Rights and other relevant human rights treaties the country is a party to;
  • All the national legislations of Benin should be amended in line with international treaties Benin is a party to.
  • The process of passing a Family Code into law should be speeded up as a step forward towards ameliorating women and children's rights.
  • The Government should make schooling at primary level not only free of charge on a gradual basis as stated in the Constitution but also compulsory and allocate adequate means for that.
  • The Government should take action regarding the allocation of adequate means to the prisons so as to help make the conditions of detention better and match them with international standards.
  • Action should be taken so as to speed up the processing of detainees' cases to avoid long detention without trial.
  • Gendarmes should not man the prisons.
  • Government should look into the conditions of work of the prison staff.
  • The conditions of the Prisons should be improved upon especially in terms of hygiene and safety standards.
  • Ratify the Additional Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights and any other treaty it has not yet ratified.
  • Government should create a strong link between itself and the NGO community so that they can work together towards disseminating the Constitution, other national laws and the international treaties Benin is a party to. Government should also work together with the NGO community towards putting an end to the activities of the vigilante group in the Mono province, as these activities are contrary to both the Constitution and the Charter.
  • Government must continue working in collaboration with NGOs to put an end to child domestic labour and trafficking in children.
  • Human rights should form part of school curricula.
  • Government should provide better incentives for magistrates and judges so that they don't leave to join the civil service, this would help speed up the backlog of cases.
  • The NGOs have to form a united front and work closely with the Government towards helping the average Beninois enjoy their rights and freedoms as set out in the Constitution and the African Charter.


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