Death Penalty Database

Benin

Information current as of: September 20, 2012

General

Official Country Name

Republic of Benin (French) (Benin). [1]

Geographical Region

Africa (Western Africa). [2]

Death Penalty Law Status

Abolitionist de facto. [3]

Methods of Execution

Beheading.
Beheading is provided for under Article 12 of the Penal Code but shooting has been more commonly used in Benin. [4]

Shooting.
(by firing-squad). [5]

References

[1] U.S. Dept. of State, Background Note: Benin, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/6761.htm, Nov. 22, 2010.
[2] U.N., World Macro Regions and Components, U.N. Doc. ST/ESA/STAT/SER.R/29, 2000.
[3] Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty: Countries Abolitionist in Practice, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/countries-abolitionist-in-practice, last accessed Dec. 15, 2010. Amnesty Intl., West Africa: Time to abolish the death penalty, p. 5, AFR 05/003/2003, Oct. 8, 2003. Amnesty Intl., Benin, Amnesty International Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review, p. 1, AFR 14/001/2008, Feb. 7, 2008. Roger Hood & Carolyn Hoyle, The Death Penalty: A Worldwide Perspective, p. 410, Oxford University Press, 4th ed., 2008. La Peine de Mort dans le Monde, La peine de mort – Bénin, http://www.peinedemort.org/National/pays.php?pays=162, last accessed Dec. 15, 2010. U.N. ECOSOC, Capital punishment and implementation of the safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty, Report of the Secretary-General, p. 64, U.N. Doc. E/2010/10, Dec. 18, 2009. Le Matinal, Bénin : le moratoire à l’exécution est-il condamné à mort ?, http://www.sonangnon.net/actualites/2007/fevrier/intlematinal0102_6.php, Feb. 1, 2007. Joseph Djogbenou, Bénin : Le secteur de la justice et l’Etat de droit : Une étude d’AfriMAP et de l’Open Society Initiative for West Africa, p. 89, Open Society Initiative for West Africa, http://www.afrimap.org/report.php#Benin, 2010.
[4] Penal Code, known as Code Bouvenet, art. 12, Decree of May 6, 1877, as amended through 1954. Le Matinal, Bénin : le moratoire à l’exécution est-il condamné à mort ?, http://www.sonangnon.net/actualites/2007/fevrier/intlematinal0102_6.php, Feb. 1, 2007.
[5] Penal Code, known as Code Bouvenet, art. 12, Decree of May 6, 1877, as amended through 1954. Amnesty Intl., When the State Kills, p. 108, Amnesty Intl. Publications, 1989. Le Matinal, Bénin : le moratoire à l’exécution est-il condamné à mort ?, http://www.sonangnon.net/actualites/2007/fevrier/intlematinal0102_6.php, Feb. 1, 2007.

Country Details

Language(s)

French. [1]

Population

9,050,000. (2010). [2]

Number of Individuals Currently Under Sentence of Death

There were 13 people under sentence of death at the end of 2014, [3] and we have not found any reports of new death sentences since then. There have been no new death sentences since 2010. [4]

(This question was last updated on October 7, 2015.)

Annual Number of Reported Executions

Executions in 2017 to date (last updated on June 21, 2017)

0. [5]

Executions in 2016

0. [6]

Per capita execution rate in 2016

Executions in 2015

0. [7]

Per capita execution rate in 2015

0 executions.

Executions in 2014

0. [8]

Per capita execution rate in 2014

0 executions

Executions in 2013

0. [9]

Per capita execution rate in 2013

0 executions

Executions in 2012

0. [10]

Per capita execution rate in 2012

0 executions

Executions in 2011

0. [11]

Per capita execution rate in 2011

0 executions

Executions in 2010

0. [12]

Executions in 2009

0. [13]

Executions in 2008

0. [14]

Executions in 2007

0. [15]

Year of Last Known Execution

1987. A majority of reliable sources indicate that the last execution in Benin took place in 1987, when two persons were shot after receiving death sentences for ritual murder. [16] Two organizations state that the last execution took place in 1993, [17] but we believe this is the result of some confusion over the 7 death sentences that were pronounced in absentia that year for armed robbery, [18] but were not executed.

References

[1] Constitution of the Republic of Benin, art. 1, Law No. 90-32, Dec. 11, 1990.
[2] U.S. Dept. of State, Background Note: Benin, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/6761.htm, Nov. 10, 2011.
[3] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2014, ACT 50/001/2015, Mar. 31, 2015.
[4] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2014, ACT 50/001/2015, Mar. 31, 2015.
[5] DPW Executions and Death Sentences Monitor.
[6] Amnesty International, Death sentences and executions in 2016, ACT 50/5740/2017, Apr. 11, 2017.
[7] DPW Executions and Death Sentences Monitor.
[8] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2014, ACT 50/001/2015, Mar. 31, 2015.
[9] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2013, ACT 50/001/2014, Mar. 26, 2014.
[10] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2012, ACT 50/001/2012, Apr. 9, 2013.
[11] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, ACT 50/001/2012, Mar. 27, 2012.
[12] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2010, p. 5, ACT 50/001/2011, Mar. 28, 2011.
[13] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2009, ACT 50/001/2010, Mar. 30, 2010.
[14] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, ACT 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009.
[15] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2007, ACT 50/001/2008, Apr. 15, 2008.
[16] Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty: Countries Abolitionist in Practice, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/countries-abolitionist-in-practice, last accessed Feb. 1, 2012. Amnesty Intl., West Africa: Time to abolish the death penalty, p. 5, AFR 05/003/2003, Oct. 8, 2003. Amnesty Intl., Benin, Amnesty International Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review, p. 1, AFR 14/001/2008, Feb. 7, 2008. Roger Hood & Carolyn Hoyle, The Death Penalty: A Worldwide Perspective, p. 410, Oxford University Press, 4th ed., 2008. La Peine de Mort dans le Monde, La peine de mort – Bénin, http://www.peinedemort.org/National/pays.php?pays=162, last accessed Feb. 1, 2012. U.N. ECOSOC, Capital punishment and implementation of the safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty, Report of the Secretary-General, p. 64, U.N. Doc. E/2010/10, Dec. 18, 2009. Joseph Djogbenou, Bénin : Le secteur de la justice et l’Etat de droit : Une étude d’AfriMAP et de l’Open Society Initiative for West Africa, p. 89, Open Society Initiative for West Africa, http://www.afrimap.org/report.php#Benin, 2010. Amnesty Intl., Benin closer to abolishing the death penalty, http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/benin-closer-abolishing-death-penalty-2011-08-19, Aug. 19, 2011.
[17] Caroline Sculier, Towards a Universal Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty, Strategies, Arguments and Perspectives, World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, p. 10, http://www.fiacat.org/IMG/pdf/WCADP-MoratoriumReport2010-en-1.pdf, Feb. 2010. Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort, La peine de mort : Benin, http://www.abolition.fr/ecpm/french/fiche-pays.php?pays=BEN, last accessed Feb. 1, 2012.
[18] La Peine de Mort dans le Monde, La peine de mort – Bénin, http://www.peinedemort.org/National/pays.php?pays=162, last accessed Feb. 1, 2012.

Crimes and Offenders Punishable By Death

Crimes Punishable by Death

Aggravated Murder.
Parricide, poisoning, [1] premeditated murder (except when a mother kills her newborn child), [2] and murder committed for the purpose of cannibalism [3] are punishable by death. [4] Murder committed before, during or after another offense, and murder committed in order to further or facilitate another offense, including to ensure impunity for the offense, are also punishable by death. [5]

Other Offenses Resulting in Death.
Sorcery, magic and other similar practices which lead to the death of the victim, [6] kidnapping of a minor resulting in death, [7] arson (or destruction using explosive devices) resulting in death, [8] intentional destruction of buildings or machinery resulting in death [9] and castration resulting in death [10] are punishable by death

Terrorism-Related Offenses Resulting in Death.
Terrorist acts are punishable by death. [11] We were unable to determine whether or not they must result in death in order to be death-eligible.

Terrorism-Related Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
Terrorist acts are punishable by death. [12] We were unable to determine whether or not they must result in death in order to be death-eligible.

Robbery Not Resulting in Death.
Armed robbery [13] is punishable by death.

Arson Not Resulting in Death.
Arson (or destruction using explosive devices) committed on inhabited buildings or on vehicles with people on board, [14] and arson (or destruction using explosive devices) of State-owned goods [15] are punishable by death.

Kidnapping Not Resulting in Death.
Human trafficking is punishable by death. [16]

Treason.
Acts of treason [17] and provoking or offering to commit treason [18] are punishable by death. [19]

Espionage.
Espionage and provoking or offering to commit espionage are punishable by death. [20]

Other Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
- Poisoning (even where it does not result in death); [21] sorcery, magic and other similar practices which cause public order disturbances or lead to the permanent injury of the victim; [22] assaulting a judge or civil servant on duty with intent to kill; [23] committing torture or barbaric acts in order to commit a felony [24] or torturing a sequestered person; [25] committing perjury leading to a death sentence; [26] and attempting a death-eligible crime [27] are punishable by death.
- Corruption: The judge or juror who sentences a person to death because he was bribed to do so is punishable by death. [28]
- Repeat offense: An individual who is sentenced to forced labor for life and who commits a second offense also bearing a sentence of forced labour for life will be sentenced to death. If the first sentence was handed down by a military court, the first offense must also be punishable under ordinary criminal law in order to trigger the recidivism rule. [29]

Comments.
Criminal law in Benin dates from colonial times. [30] The prevailing Penal Code is known as the “Code Bouvenet”, in reference to the author of the annotated edition of the criminal laws introduced into West African French colonies in 1877. [31] Not only is the Penal Code unsuited to contemporary criminal justice challenges, it is also inconsistent with the Constitution and Benin’s international human rights commitments. [32] The current Code of Criminal Procedure, which dates from 1967, is similarly outdated. [33] Bills to implement new Penal and Criminal Procedure Codes were introduced into the Beninese Parliament about ten years ago, but were never formally debated. [34]

Does the country have a mandatory death penalty?

No. If the courts find mitigating circumstances, the death penalty is commuted into forced labor or imprisonment. [35]

For Which Offenses, If Any, Is a Mandatory Death Sentence Imposed?

Benin does not have a mandatory death penalty. [36]

Crimes For Which Individuals Have Been Executed Since January 2008:

No one has been executed since 1987. [37]

Categories of Offenders Excluded From the Death Penalty:

Individuals Below Age 18 At Time of Crime.
Although there is no minimum age for criminal responsibility, [38] a minor who is under the age of 18 at the time of a death-eligible offense will receive a maximum sentence of 10 to 20 years’ imprisonment. [39]

Benin is party to the ICCPR [40] and to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, [41] which prohibit the execution of individuals for crimes committed while under the age of 18.

Pregnant Women.
Under national law, pregnant women cannot be executed before they have given birth. [42]

Benin is party to the ICCPR, [43] and the Protocol on the Rights of Women attached to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, [44] which prohibit the execution of pregnant women.

Women With Small Children.
Benin has ratified the Protocol on the Rights of Women attached to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. [45] The Protocol excludes nursing mothers from execution. [46] Benin is also party to the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, [47] which prohibits the imposition of a death sentence on mothers of infants and young children. [48]

Mentally Ill.
A person who was in a state of insanity at the time of the offense is not criminally liable. [49]

References

[1] Penal Code, known as Code Bouvenet, art. 302, Decree of May 6, 1877, as amended through 1954.
[2] Penal Code, known as Code Bouvenet, arts. 302, 312, Decree of May 6, 1877, as amended through 1954.
[3] Penal Code, known as Code Bouvenet, art. 302, Decree of May 6, 1877, as amended through 1954.
[4] Le Matinal, Bénin : le moratoire à l’exécution est-il condamné à mort ?, http://www.sonangnon.net/actualites/2007/fevrier/intlematinal0102_6.php, Feb. 1, 2007.
[5] Penal Code, known as Code Bouvenet, art. 304, Decree of May 6, 1877, as amended through 1954.
[6] Amnesty Intl., When the State Kills, p. 108, Amnesty Intl. Publications, 1989.
[7] Penal Code, known as Code Bouvenet, art. 355, Decree of May 6, 1877, as amended through 1954.
[8] Penal Code, known as Code Bouvenet, arts. 434, 435, Decree of May 6, 1877, as amended through 1954.
[9] Penal Code, known as Code Bouvenet, art. 437, Decree of May 6, 1877, as amended through 1954.
[10] Penal Code, known as Code Bouvenet, art. 316, Decree of May 6, 1877, as amended through 1954.
[11] U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Committee Against Torture, Written replies from the Government of Benin to the list of issues (CAT/C/BEN/Q/2) to be considered during the examination of the second periodic report of Benin (CAT/C/BEN/2), p. 5, para. 27, U.N. Doc. CAT/C/BEN/Q/2/Add.1, Sep. 17, 2007.
[12] U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Committee Against Torture, Written replies from the Government of Benin to the list of issues (CAT/C/BEN/Q/2) to be considered during the examination of the second periodic report of Benin (CAT/C/BEN/2), p. 5, para. 27, U.N. Doc. CAT/C/BEN/Q/2/Add.1, Sep. 17, 2007.
[13] Penal Code, known as Code Bouvenet, art. 381, Decree of May 6, 1877, as amended through 1954.
[14] Penal Code, known as Code Bouvenet, arts. 434, 435, Decree of May 6, 1877, as amended through 1954.
[15] Penal Code, known as Code Bouvenet, art. 95, Decree of May 6, 1877, as amended through 1954.
[16] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Benin, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/af/135938.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[17] Penal Code, known as Code Bouvenet, arts. 75, 76, 91, 92, 93, 94, 96, 125, 123, Decree of May 6, 1877, as amended through 1954.
[18] Penal Code, known as Code Bouvenet, art. 77, Decree of May 6, 1877, as amended through 1954.
[19] Le Matinal, Bénin : le moratoire à l’exécution est-il condamné à mort ?, http://www.sonangnon.net/actualites/2007/fevrier/intlematinal0102_6.php, Feb. 1, 2007.Amnesty Intl., When the State Kills, p. 108, Amnesty Intl. Publications, 1989.
[20] Penal Code, known as Code Bouvenet, art. 77, Decree of May 6, 1877, as amended through 1954.
[21] Penal Code, known as Code Bouvenet, art. 302, Decree of May 6, 1877, as amended through 1954.
[22] Amnesty Intl., When the State Kills, p. 108, Amnesty Intl. Publications, 1989.
[23] Penal Code, known as Code Bouvenet, art. 233, Decree of May 6, 1877, as amended through 1954.
[24] Penal Code, known as Code Bouvenet, art. 303, Decree of May 6, 1877, as amended through 1954.
[25] Penal Code, known as Code Bouvenet, art. 344, Decree of May 6, 1877, as amended through 1954.
[26] Penal Code, known as Code Bouvenet, art. 361, Decree of May 6, 1877, as amended through 1954.
[27] Penal Code, known as Code Bouvenet, art. 2, Decree of May 6, 1877, as amended through 1954.
[28] Penal Code, known as Code Bouvenet, art. 182, Decree of May 6, 1877, as amended through 1954.
[29] Penal Code, known as Code Bouvenet, art. 56, Decree of May 6, 1877, as amended through 1954.
[30] Joseph Djogbenou, Bénin : Le secteur de la justice et l’Etat de droit : Une étude d’AfriMAP et de l’Open Society Initiative for West Africa, pp. 22, 71, n. 198, Open Society Initiative for West Africa, http://www.afrimap.org/report.php#Benin, 2010.
[31] Penal Code, known as Code Bouvenet, Decree of May 6, 1877, as amended through 1954.
[32] Joseph Djogbenou, Bénin : Le secteur de la justice et l’Etat de droit : Une étude d’AfriMAP et de l’Open Society Initiative for West Africa, p. 22, Open Society Initiative for West Africa, http://www.afrimap.org/report.php#Benin, 2010.
[33] Joseph Djogbenou, Bénin : Le secteur de la justice et l’Etat de droit : Une étude d’AfriMAP et de l’Open Society Initiative for West Africa, p. 8, Open Society Initiative for West Africa, http://www.afrimap.org/report.php#Benin, 2010.
[34] Joseph Djogbenou, Bénin : Le secteur de la justice et l’Etat de droit : Une étude d’AfriMAP et de l’Open Society Initiative for West Africa, p. 26, Open Society Initiative for West Africa, http://www.afrimap.org/report.php#Benin, 2010.
[35] Penal Code, known as Code Bouvenet, art. 463, Decree of May 6, 1877, as amended through 1954.
[36] Penal Code, known as Code Bouvenet, art. 463, Decree of May 6, 1877, as amended through 1954.
[37] Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty: Countries Abolitionist in Practice, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/countries-abolitionist-in-practice, last accessed Feb. 1, 2012. Amnesty Intl., West Africa: Time to abolish the death penalty, p. 5, AFR 05/003/2003, Oct. 8, 2003. Amnesty Intl., Benin, Amnesty International Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review, p. 1, AFR 14/001/2008, Feb. 7, 2008. Roger Hood & Carolyn Hoyle, The Death Penalty: A Worldwide Perspective, p. 410, Oxford University Press, 4th ed., 2008. La Peine de Mort dans le Monde, La peine de mort – Bénin, http://www.peinedemort.org/National/pays.php?pays=162, last accessed Feb. 1, 2012. U.N. ECOSOC, Capital punishment and implementation of the safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty, Report of the Secretary-General, p. 64, U.N. Doc. E/2010/10, Dec. 18, 2009. Joseph Djogbenou, Bénin : Le secteur de la justice et l’Etat de droit : Une étude d’AfriMAP et de l’Open Society Initiative for West Africa, p. 89, Open Society Initiative for West Africa, http://www.afrimap.org/report.php#Benin, 2010.
[38] U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration Of Reports Submitted By States Parties Under Article 44 Of The Convention, Concluding observations: Benin, p. 22, para. 75, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/BEN/CO/2, Oct. 20, 2006.
[39] Ordinance on the trial of offences committed by minors under the age of 18, art. 2(2), Ordinance No. 69-23 PR/MJL, 10 July 1969, as cited in U.N. ICCPR Human Rights Committee, Consideration Of Reports Submitted By States Parties Under Article 40 Of The Covenant, Benin, p. 12, paras. 28-29, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/BEN/2004/1/Add.1, Aug. 17, 2004.
[40] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 1, 2012.
[41] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1577 U.N.T.S. 3, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=UNTSONLINE&tabid=2&mtdsg_no=IV-11&chapter=4&lang=en#Participants, last accessed Feb. 1, 2012.
[42] Penal Code, known as Code Bouvenet, art. 27, Decree of May 6, 1877, as amended through 1954.
[43] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 1, 2012.
[44] African Union, List of countries which have signed, ratified/acceded to the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights, Doc. 0002, http://au.int/en/sites/default/files/African_Charter_on_Human_and_Peoples_Rights.pdf, Aug. 2, 2011.
[45] African Union, List of countries which have signed, ratified/acceded to the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, Doc. 0025, http://www.au.int/en/sites/default/files/999Rights_of_Women.pdf, Feb. 14, 2011
[46] A.U., Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People's Rights on the Rights of Women In Africa, art. 4.2.j), http://www.africa-union.org/root/au/Documents/Treaties/Text/Protocol%20on%20the%20Rights%20of%20Women.pdf, Jul. 11, 2003.
[47] African Union, Signatories, Accessions, and Ratifications, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, Doc. 0003, http://www.au.int/en/sites/default/files/96Welfare_of_the_Child.pdf, Jan. 27, 2011.
[48] A.U., African Charter On The Rights And Welfare Of The Child, art. 30(e), A.U. Doc. CAB/LEG/24.9/49, Jul. 11, 1990.
[49] Penal Code, known as Code Bouvenet, art. 64, Decree of May 6, 1877, as amended through 1954.

International Commitments

ICCPR

Party?

Yes. [1]

Date of Accession

Mar. 12, 1992. [2]

Signed?

No. [3]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

First Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, Recognizing Jurisdiction of the Human Rights Committee

Party?

Yes. [4]

Date of Accession

Mar. 12, 1992. [5]

Signed?

No. [6]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, Toward the Abolition of the Death Penalty

Party?

Yes. [7]

Date of Accession

July 5, 2012. [8]

Signed?

No. [9]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

American Convention on Human Rights

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Death Penalty Protocol to the ACHR

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR)

Party?

Yes. [10]

Date of Accession

Jan. 20, 1986. [11]

Signed?

Yes. [12]

Date of Signature

Feb. 11, 2004. [13]

Protocol to the ACHPR on the Rights of Women in Africa

Party?

Yes. [14]

Date of Accession

Sep. 30, 2005. [15]

Signed?

Yes. [16]

Date of Signature

Feb. 11, 2004. [17]

African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

Party?

Yes. [18]

Date of Accession

Apr. 17, 1997. [19]

Signed?

Yes. [20]

Date of Signature

Feb. 27, 1992. [21]

Arab Charter on Human Rights

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

2016 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Vote

In Favor. [22]

2014 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

Yes. [23]

Vote

In Favor. [24]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

No. [25]

2012 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

Yes. [26]

Vote

In Favor. [27]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

No. [28]

2010 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

Yes. [29]

Vote

Not Present. [30]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

No. [31]

2008 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

Yes. [32]

Vote

In Favor. [33]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

No. [34]

2007 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

Yes. [35]

Vote

In Favor. [36]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

No. [37]

References

[1] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 1, 2012.
[2] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 1, 2012.
[3] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 1, 2012.
[4] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 1, 2012.
[5] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 1, 2012.
[6] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 1, 2012.
[7] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Second Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1642 U.N.T.S. 414, Dec. 15, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-12&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jul. 10, 2012.
[8] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Second Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1642 U.N.T.S. 414, Dec. 15, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-12&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jul. 10, 2012.
[9] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Second Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1642 U.N.T.S. 414, Dec. 15, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-12&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jul. 10, 2012.
[10] African Union, List of countries which have signed, ratified/acceded to the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights, Doc. 0002, http://au.int/en/sites/default/files/African_Charter_on_Human_and_Peoples_Rights.pdf, Aug. 2, 2011.
[11] African Union, List of countries which have signed, ratified/acceded to the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights, Doc. 0002, http://au.int/en/sites/default/files/African_Charter_on_Human_and_Peoples_Rights.pdf, Aug. 2, 2011.
[12] African Union, List of countries which have signed, ratified/acceded to the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights, Doc. 0002, http://au.int/en/sites/default/files/African_Charter_on_Human_and_Peoples_Rights.pdf, Aug. 2, 2011.
[13] African Union, List of countries which have signed, ratified/acceded to the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights, Doc. 0002, http://au.int/en/sites/default/files/African_Charter_on_Human_and_Peoples_Rights.pdf, Aug. 2, 2011.
[14] African Union, List of countries which have signed, ratified/acceded to the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, Doc. 0025, http://www.au.int/en/sites/default/files/999Rights_of_Women.pdf, Feb. 14, 2011.
[15] African Union, List of countries which have signed, ratified/acceded to the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, Doc. 0025, http://www.au.int/en/sites/default/files/999Rights_of_Women.pdf, Feb. 14, 2011.
[16] African Union, List of countries which have signed, ratified/acceded to the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, Doc. 0025, http://www.au.int/en/sites/default/files/999Rights_of_Women.pdf, Feb. 14, 2011.
[17] African Union, List of countries which have signed, ratified/acceded to the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, Doc. 0025, http://www.au.int/en/sites/default/files/999Rights_of_Women.pdf, Feb. 14, 2011.
[18] African Union, Signatories, Accessions, and Ratifications, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, Doc. 0003, http://www.au.int/en/sites/default/files/96Welfare_of_the_Child.pdf, Jan. 27, 2011.
[19] African Union, Signatories, Accessions, and Ratifications, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, Doc. 0003, http://www.au.int/en/sites/default/files/96Welfare_of_the_Child.pdf, Jan. 27, 2011.
[20] African Union, Signatories, Accessions, and Ratifications, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, Doc. 0003, http://www.au.int/en/sites/default/files/96Welfare_of_the_Child.pdf, Jan. 27, 2011.
[21] African Union, Signatories, Accessions, and Ratifications, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, Doc. 0003, http://www.au.int/en/sites/default/files/96Welfare_of_the_Child.pdf, Jan. 27, 2011.
[22] U.N.G.A., 71st Session, Recorded Vote on A/C.3/71/L.27 Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty, Nov. 17, 2016.
[23] U.N.G.A., 69th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 141, 144, U.N. Doc. A/69/488/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2014.
[24] U.N.G.A., 69th Session, 73rd Plenary Meeting, pp. 17-18, U.N. Doc. A/69/PV.73, Dec. 18, 2014.
[25] U.N.G.A., 69th Session, Note Verbale dated 28 July 2015, U.N. Doc. A/69/993, Jul. 29, 2015.
[26] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 95-96, U.N. Doc. A/67/457/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2012.
[27] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, 60th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/67/PV.60, Dec. 20, 2012.
[28] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, Note Verbale dated 16 April 2013, U.N. Doc. A/67/841, Apr. 23, 2013.
[29] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, p. 5, U.N. Doc. A/65/456/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2010.
[30] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, 71st Plenary Meeting, pp. 18-19, U.N. Doc. A/65/PV.71, Dec. 21, 2010.
[31] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, Note Verbale dated 11 March 2011, U.N. Doc. A/65/779, Mar. 11, 2011.
[32] U.N.G.A., 63rd session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, U.N. Doc. A/63/430/Add.2, Dec. 4, 2008.
[33] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, 70th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16- 17, U.N. Doc. A/63/PV.70, Dec. 18, 2008.
[34] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, Note Verbale dated 10 February 2009, U.N. Doc. A/63/716, Feb. 12, 2009.
[35] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, U.N. Doc. A/62/439/Add.2, Dec. 5, 2007.
[36] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, 76th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16- 17, U.N. Doc. A/62/PV.76, Dec. 18, 2007.
[37] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, Note Verbale dated 11 January 2008, U.N. Doc. A/62/658, Feb. 2, 2008.

Death Penalty In Law

Does the country’s constitution make reference to capital punishment?

Under Article 8 of the Constitution, the human person is “sacred and inviolable”, and the State has “the absolute obligation to respect it and protect it”. [1] Article 15 provides that each individual has the right to life, liberty, security and the integrity of his person. [2]

In 1999, the constitutionality of the death penalty was challenged on the basis of Articles 8 and 15. The Constitutional Court of Benin upheld the death penalty, holding that these two constitutional articles did not explicitly or implicitly prohibit capital punishment, and should be understood in conjunction with Article 4 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The African Charter, which according to the Constitution’s Preamble and Article 7, forms an integral part of the Constitution, [3] prohibits only arbitrary deprivations of the right to life. The Court held that properly legislated death penalty provisions were not arbitrary and were thus constitutional. [4]

Does the country’s constitution make reference to international law?

Yes. Pursuant to Article 7 of the Constitution, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights “shall be an integral part of the present Constitution and of Beninese law.” [5] Furthermore, the Constitution’s preamble reaffirms the Beninese People’s “attachment to the principles of democracy and human rights as they have been defined by the Charter of the United Nations … and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights …, by the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights … whose provisions make up an integral part of this present Constitution and of Beninese law and have a value superior to the internal law.” [6] Article 147 provides that lawfully ratified treaties or agreements have an authority superior to that of laws. [7]

Have there been any significant changes in the application of the death penalty over the last several years?

On July 5, 2012, Benin acceded to the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, the most important international human rights treaty aiming at the universal abolition of the death penalty. [8] As a party to the treaty, Benin commits to no longer carrying out executions, and to take all necessary measures to abolish the death penalty. As of September 20, 2012, capital punishment had not yet been repealed from its criminal legislation, but complete abolition is expected shortly. On August 4, 2012, the Constitutional Court issued a decision stating that the provisions relating to the death penalty in the Code of Criminal Procedure were unconstitutional, and called on the National Assembly to remove them. [9]

Benin’s accession to the Second Optional Protocol came as no surprise, and follows a period of strong indications that Benin is moving towards complete abolition. In its 2008 report to the U.N. Human Rights Council, Benin declared that a multidisciplinary committee was in charge of “considering the issue” of abolition and would suggest measures to bring Benin into line with its international obligations. Benin also described itself as “moving towards a moratorium”. [10] In November 2009, Benin’s President sent a government bill to the National Assembly providing for the abolition of the death penalty to be enshrined in the Constitution. [11] In February 2010, the Minister of Justice declared in an interview that the government was lobbying members of parliament and expected the bill to pass before the middle of that year. In the Minister’s opinion, “the participation of President Yayi Boni to [sic] a recent conference on the abolition of the death penalty in Madrid was part of his will to publicize his choice loud and clear.” [12] Furthermore, Benin welcomed a regional death penalty conference organized by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights in April 2010. [13] It should also be noted that Benin co-sponsored and voted in favor of the U.N.G.A. Moratorium Resolutions, in 2007 [14] and 2008. [15]

Finally, on August 18, 2011, the National Assembly of Benin voted overwhelmingly in favor of ratifying the Second Optional Protocol. [16] (There were 54 votes in favor, 5 against and 6 abstentions). [17] The vote demonstrates a broad political consensus on abolition.

Although its last execution took place in 1987, [18] almost twenty-five years ago, until recently there had been conflicting reports about Benin’s attitude towards the death penalty. During the National Assembly’s discussions in 2006 surrounding the drafting of a new Penal Code, the Minister of Justice declared that Benin was “an abolitionist country” but also a “realistic” one, and stated that the death penalty had to be maintained as a dissuasive means of action against foreign criminals. [19] One of the government’s concerns was that the abolition of the death penalty would make Benin “a refuge for gangsters from neighboring countries”. [20] Amnesty International reports that at least 5 death sentences were pronounced in 2009, [21] and at least one more was handed down in 2010. [22]

Is there currently an official moratorium on executions within the country?

Yes. On July 5, 2012, Benin acceded to the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR aiming at the abolition of the death penalty. [23] As a party to the treaty, Benin commits to no longer carrying out executions, and to take all necessary measures to abolish the death penalty.

Have there been any significant published cases concerning the death penalty in national courts?

On August 4, 2012, the Constitutional Court issued a decision stating that the provisions relating to the death penalty in the Code of Criminal Procedure were unconstitutional because they violate Benin’s international obligations as a party to the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR. The Court called on the National Assembly to remove them. [24]

In the 1999 Bamigbade case, the Constitutional Court of Benin upheld the constitutional validity of all the death penalty provisions in Beninese legislation. The death penalty was challenged on the basis of Articles 8 and 15 of the Constitution, which enshrine the “sacred and inviolable” nature of the human person, [25] and the right to life, liberty, security and the integrity of the person. [26] The Constitutional Court held that these two constitutional articles did not explicitly or implicitly prohibit capital punishment, and should be understood in conjunction with Article 4 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The African Charter, which according to the Constitution’s Preamble and Article 7, forms an integral part of the Constitution, [27] prohibits only arbitrary deprivations of the right to life. The Court held that properly legislated death penalty provisions were not arbitrary and were thus constitutional. [28]

Where can one locate or access judicial decisions regarding the death penalty?

The case law of the Constitutional Court is published in a dedicated law reporter, the Recueil des décisions et avis de la cour constitutionnelle. [29] Judicial decisions are also available on the Court’s website: http://www.cour-constitutionnelle-benin.org/. Legislation and selected judicial decisions are published in an official gazette, the Journal Officiel de la République du Bénin. [30] At the time of research, however, the Journal Officiel was not accessible online.

What is the clemency process?

A person sentenced to death has 72 hours after the sentence is rendered to file for clemency. [31] Pleas for clemency are first studied by the Superior Council of Magistrates, which then transfers the file together with its reasoned opinion to the President. [32] The President makes the final decision, and may take as long as he chooses to decide whether or not to grant a pardon. [33] If clemency is granted, the death penalty is commuted to forced labor for life. [34] It is traditional for a presidential amnesty decree to be published every year on August 1, the anniversary of Benin’s independence. [35] We were unable to find out, however, whether death sentences are included in these annual pardons.

Are jury trials provided for defendants charged with capital offenses?

Yes. [36] Death-eligible offenses are tried by the Court of Assizes, composed of three professional magistrates and four jury members. [37]

Brief Description of Appellate Process

Death-eligible offenses are tried by the Court of Assizes. The decisions of the Court of Assizes can be appealed before the Supreme Court, [38] on matters of law only, within the three days following the day of the judgment. [39] If the Supreme Court reverses the decision, the case is sent for retrial by another Court of Assizes. [40]

In the last 10 years or so, the Constitutional Court has extended its jurisdiction on its own initiative and has decided it is competent to control the constitutionality of decisions rendered not just by administrative and constitutional courts, but by all other courts as well, including the Supreme Court, if there is a human rights violation. This extension of jurisdiction is reported to be controversial and is the subject of a bill before parliament. [41] We were not able to ascertain the consequences of an unconstitutionality decision rendered by the Constitutional Court under this power.

Collateral review is also provided for by the 1966 Ordinance on the Supreme Court. [42] There are four situations in which the accused or the Minister for Justice may ask for a review by the Supreme Court. All four relate to the appearance of new facts or evidence calling into question the guilt of the death-sentenced person. [43] The Supreme Court may order a retrial by the Court of Assizes [44] or may simply annul the death-sentencing judgment if it finds that no offense was constituted on the facts. [45]

References

[1] Constitution of the Republic of Benin, art. 8, Law No. 90-32, Dec. 11, 1990.
[2] Constitution of the Republic of Benin, art. 15, Law No. 90-32, Dec. 11, 1990.
[3] Constitution of the Republic of Benin, Preamble, art. 7, Law No. 90-32, Dec. 11, 1990.
[4] Adrien Kolle Bamigbade, DCC 99-051, Constitutional Court of Benin, 1999.
[5] Constitution of the Republic of Benin, art. 7, Law No. 90-32, Dec. 11, 1990.
[6] Constitution of the Republic of Benin, Preamble, Law No. 90-32, Dec. 11, 1990.
[7] Constitution of the Republic of Benin, art. 147, Law No. 90-32, Dec. 11, 1990.
[8] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Second Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1642 U.N.T.S. 414, Dec. 15, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-12&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 1, 2012Jul. 10, 2012.
[9] Cour constitutionnelle of Benin, Decision No. DCC 12-153, Aug. 4, 2012. FIACAT, Bénin: La cour constitutionnelle rejette les dispositions du Code de procédure pénale qui font référence à la peine de mort, http://www.fiacat.org/benin-la-cour-constitutionnelle-rejette-les-dispositions-du-code-de-procedure-penale-qui-font-reference-a-la-peine-de-mort, Sep. 20, 2012.
[10] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, National Report Submitted In Accordance With Paragraph 15(A) Of The Annex To Human Rights Council Resolution 5/1, Benin, p. 12, paras. 46-47, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/WG.6/2/BEN/1, Apr. 9, 2008.
[11] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2009, p. 23, ACT 50/001/2010, Mar. 30, 2010.
[12] World Coaliation Against the Death Penalty, Le Bénin en marche vers l’abolition, http://www.worldcoalition.org/fr/Benin-on-track-to-achieve-abolition.html, Feb. 7, 2010.
[13] Guillaume Colin, Soon-to-be abolitionist Benin hosts forum on death penalty in Africa, World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, http://www.ipsnews.net/deathpenaltyabolition/may2010-ngo.asp, Apr. 24, 2010.
[14] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, U.N. Doc. A/62/439/Add.2, Dec. 5, 2007.U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, 76th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16- 17, U.N. Doc. A/62/PV.76, Dec. 18, 2007.
[15] U.N.G.A., 63rd session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, U.N. Doc. A/63/430/Add.2, Dec. 4, 2008. U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, 70th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16- 17, U.N. Doc. A/63/PV.70, Dec. 18, 2008.
[16] Amnesty Intl., Benin closer to abolishing the death penalty, http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/benin-closer-abolishing-death-penalty-2011-08-19, Aug. 19, 2011.
[17] Emile Carreau, Benin votes overwhelmingly to join abolitionist ranks, http://www.worldcoalition.org/Benin-votes-overwhelmingly-to-join-abolitionist-ranks.html, Sep. 5, 2011.
[18] Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty: Countries Abolitionist in Practice, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/countries-abolitionist-in-practice, last accessed Feb. 1, 2012. Amnesty Intl., West Africa: Time to abolish the death penalty, p. 5, AFR 05/003/2003, Oct. 8, 2003. Amnesty Intl., Benin, Amnesty International Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review, p. 1, AFR 14/001/2008, Feb. 7, 2008. Roger Hood & Carolyn Hoyle, The Death Penalty: A Worldwide Perspective, p. 410, Oxford University Press, 4th ed., 2008. La Peine de Mort dans le Monde, La peine de mort – Bénin, http://www.peinedemort.org/National/pays.php?pays=162, last accessed Feb. 1, 2012. U.N. ECOSOC, Capital punishment and implementation of the safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty, Report of the Secretary-General, p. 64, U.N. Doc. E/2010/10, Dec. 18, 2009.
[19] Le Matinal, La peine de mort maintenue au Bénin, http://avod.free.fr/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=119&Itemid=38, May 29, 2006.
[20] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Universal Periodic Review, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, Benin, p. 14, para. 54, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/8/39, May 28, 2008.
[21] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2009, p. 6, ACT 50/001/2010, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ACT50/001/2010/en, Mar. 30, 2010.
[22] Amnesty Intl., Benin closer to abolishing the death penalty, http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/benin-closer-abolishing-death-penalty-2011-08-19, Aug. 19, 2011.
[23] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Second Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1642 U.N.T.S. 414, Dec. 15, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-12&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 1, 2012Jul. 10, 2012.
[24] Cour constitutionnelle of Benin, Decision No. DCC 12-153, Aug. 4, 2012. FIACAT, Bénin: La cour constitutionnelle rejette les dispositions du Code de procédure pénale qui font référence à la peine de mort, http://www.fiacat.org/benin-la-cour-constitutionnelle-rejette-les-dispositions-du-code-de-procedure-penale-qui-font-reference-a-la-peine-de-mort, Sep. 20, 2012.
[25] Constitution of the Republic of Benin, art. 8, Law No. 90-32, Dec. 11, 1990.
[26] Constitution of the Republic of Benin, art. 15, Law No. 90-32, Dec. 11, 1990.
[27] Constitution of the Republic of Benin, Preamble, art. 7, Law No. 90-32, Dec. 11, 1990.
[28] Adrien Kolle Bamigbade, DCC 99-051, Constitutional Court of Benin, 1999.
[29] Ahonagnon Noel Gbaguidi & William Kodjoh-Kpakpassou, Introduction au Système Juridique et Judiciaire du Bénin, GlobaLex, http://www.nyulawglobal.com/globalex/BENIN.htm, Mar.-Apr., 2009.
[30] Ahonagnon Noel Gbaguidi & William Kodjoh-Kpakpassou, Introduction au Système Juridique et Judiciaire du Bénin, GlobaLex, http://www.nyulawglobal.com/globalex/BENIN.htm, Mar.-Apr., 2009.
[31] Le Matinal, Bénin : le moratoire à l’exécution est-il condamné à mort ?, http://www.sonangnon.net/actualites/2007/fevrier/intlematinal0102_6.php, Feb. 1, 2007.
[32] Constitution of the Republic of Benin, art. 130, Law No. 90-32, Dec. 11, 1990.
[33] Constitution of the Republic of Benin, arts. 60, 130, Law No. 90-32, Dec. 11, 1990. Le Matinal, Bénin : le moratoire à l’exécution est-il condamné à mort ?, http://www.sonangnon.net/actualites/2007/fevrier/intlematinal0102_6.php, Feb. 1, 2007.
[34] Le Matinal, Bénin : le moratoire à l’exécution est-il condamné à mort ?, http://www.sonangnon.net/actualites/2007/fevrier/intlematinal0102_6.php, Feb. 1, 2007.
[35] Joseph Djogbenou, Bénin : Le secteur de la justice et l’Etat de droit : Une étude d’AfriMAP et de l’Open Society Initiative for West Africa, p. 36, Open Society Initiative for West Africa, http://www.afrimap.org/report.php#Benin, 2010.
[36] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Benin, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/af/135938.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[37] Bertin C. Amoussou, Procédure Pénale, p. 89, Collection “Tête Fertile”, 2004. Ahonagnon Noel Gbaguidi & William Kodjoh-Kpakpassou, Introduction au Système Juridique et Judiciaire du Bénin, GlobaLex, http://www.nyulawglobal.com/globalex/BENIN.htm, Mar.-Apr., 2009.
[38] Ordinance on the Composition, Organization, Operation and Attributions of the Supreme Court, art. 34, No. 21/PR, Apr. 26, 1966.
[39] Ordinance on the Composition, Organization, Operation and Attributions of the Supreme Court, art. 95, No. 21/PR, Apr. 26, 1966.
[40] Ordinance on the Composition, Organization, Operation and Attributions of the Supreme Court, art. 83, No. 21/PR, Apr. 26, 1966. Edwige Boussari, Rôle du juge de cassation dans l’interprétation et l’application des conventions internationales relatives aux droits fondamentaux, Ahjucaf, http://www.ahjucaf.org/spip.php?article38, May 17, 2004. Ahonagnon Noel Gbaguidi & William Kodjoh-Kpakpassou, Introduction au Système Juridique et Judiciaire du Bénin, GlobaLex, http://www.nyulawglobal.com/globalex/BENIN.htm, Mar.-Apr., 2009.
[41] Ahonagnon Noel Gbaguidi & William Kodjoh-Kpakpassou, Introduction au Système Juridique et Judiciaire du Bénin, GlobaLex, http://www.nyulawglobal.com/globalex/BENIN.htm, Mar.-Apr., 2009.
[42] Ordinance on the Composition, Organization, Operation and Attributions of the Supreme Court, art. 35, No. 21/PR, Apr. 26, 1966.
[43] Ordinance on the Composition, Organization, Operation and Attributions of the Supreme Court, art. 97, No. 21/PR, Apr. 26, 1966.
[44] Ordinance on the Composition, Organization, Operation and Attributions of the Supreme Court, art. 101, No. 21/PR, Apr. 26, 1966.
[45] Ordinance on the Composition, Organization, Operation and Attributions of the Supreme Court, art. 102, No. 21/PR, Apr. 26, 1966.

Death Penalty In Practice

Where Are Death-Sentenced Prisoners incarcerated?

Death-sentenced prisoners are segregated from other prisoners. [1] They are imprisoned in special facilities at the Civil Prison of Akpro-Missérété, a high-security prison which opened in 2007 and was designed to house long-term inmates. [2] As of July 2010, there were no women or minors in the Prison of Akpro-Missérété. [3]

Description of Prison Conditions

Death-sentenced prisoners are imprisoned in special facilities at the Civil Prison of Akpro-Missérété, a high-security prison which opened in 2007 and was designed to house long-term inmates. [4]

Prisoners under sentence of death were until recently imprisoned in the country’s largest prison in Cotonou. Following a visit in May 2008, the U.N. Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture denounced the conditions of confinement on death row as “an affront to human dignity [constituting] cruel and unusual punishment.” In its report of March 2011, it recommended that alternative accommodation be provided to death row inmates “as a matter of urgency.” [5] The Subcommittee found that 16 death-sentenced prisoners were imprisoned together in a single 10 m2 cell, were only allowed outside the cell once a month for 15 minutes, and had inadequate access to food, medical attention, and contact with their families and lawyers. (See section on “Decisions by Other Human Rights Bodies” for further details on the Subcommittee’s findings.) As early as February 2008, the U.N. Committee Against Torture had already expressed concern “at the deplorable conditions of detention of convicted prisoners on death row, which amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment (…)” and recommended Benin to “take all necessary measures to improve the conditions of detention of prisoners on death row in order to guarantee their basic needs and rights” and to commute death sentences. [6] The Beninese authorities stated that in response to the these recommendations, it had moved death row inmates to the Civil Prison of Akpro-Missérété. [7]

Prison conditions are generally very harsh in Benin, due to serious overcrowding (in excess of 600% in the prison of Cotonou, the main city, in 2010), and lack of adequate food, health care and hygiene. [8] Corruption restricts prison visits by relatives and friends, and food brought to prisoners may be confiscated by prison officials. [9]

By July 2010, when the most recent comprehensive report on prison conditions in Benin was prepared, death-sentenced prisoners had been moved to Akpro-Missérété. [10] The 2010 report was commissioned by the Mediator of the Republic (Ombudsman) and authored by a former Justice Minister who visited all 9 civil prisons in the country. He observed overcrowding so extreme that prisoners had to take turns to sleep. Overcrowding was in great part due to the large number of pre-trial detainees. In the country’s largest prison in Cotonou, for instance, there were 156 convicted prisoners and 1838 pre-trial detainees at the time of the visit. One prisoner had spent 11 years in pre-trial detention. [11] Some prisoners remained in detention because their case files had been lost. [12] The quality of prison food was poor, because the authorities had unpaid arrears with the food suppliers (3 years’ worth at the Cotonou prison). Some prisons have nurses on staff but no doctor [13] - in particular, there was no doctor at the Prison of Akpo-Missérété, which is intended for 1000 prisoners. Women and minors were detained in separate facilities. Minors were provided with literacy classes. [14] The report’s author found several mentally ill prisoners in detention. [15] There were also reports of deaths due to minor illnesses and suffocation during electrical outages. [16] While prison conditions on the whole were reported to be inhuman, [17] the report concluded that conditions at the Civil Prison of Akpro-Missérété, where death row inmates are imprisoned, were the least inhuman in the country. [18]

Are there any known foreign nationals currently under sentence of death?

No. A report on prison conditions commissioned by the Mediator of the Republic (Ombudsman) and submitted in July 2010 notes that all 14 prisoners currently on death row are from Benin. [19] One death sentence was issued against a woman in absentia in 2010, and it does not seem that she is a foreign national. [20] In the past, however, foreign nationals have been sentenced to death. In 1998, five Nigerians, one Burkinabé and one Malian were sentenced to death in Benin. [21]

What are the nationalities of the known foreign nationals on death row?

A report on prison conditions commissioned by the Mediator of the Republic (Ombudsman) and submitted in July 2010 notes that all 14 prisoners currently on death row are from Benin. [22] One death sentence was issued against a woman in absentia in 2010, and it does not seem that she is a foreign national. [23] In the past, however, foreign nationals have been sentenced to death. In 1998, five Nigerians, one Burkinabé and one Malian were sentenced to death in Benin. [24]

Are there any known women currently under sentence of death?

There is at least one woman under sentence of death in Benin, but she may not currently be in imprisoned. In 2010, Amnesty International reported that one woman was sentenced to death in absentia for murder. [25]

Are there any reports of individuals currently under sentence of death who may have been under the age of 18 at the time the crime was committed?

It is reported that no person under the age of 18 has ever been sentenced to death in Benin. [26] A report on prison conditions commissioned by the Mediator of the Republic (Ombudsman) and submitted in July 2010 confirmed that there were no minors on death row. [27]

Comments regarding the racial/ethnic composition on death row

By the conclusion of our research, we did not find any information on the racial/ethnic composition of death row.

Are there lawyers available for indigent defendants facing capital trials?

Assistance by a lawyer is mandatory in the Court of Assizes but a lawyer is appointed only during the final questioning before the actual hearing. The Human Rights Committee notes that this is insufficient to ensure that the right to a defense is respected. [28] In addition, there is an insufficient number of lawyers in the country (155 in 2008), and almost all of them are based in the economic capital, Cotonou, although they will take criminal mandates in other regions. [29]

Are there lawyers available for indigent prisoners on appeal?

Under Article 42 of the Ordinance on the Organization of the Supreme Court, a state-appointed lawyer in the lower courts remains in charge for all appeals before the Supreme Court. [30]

Comments on Quality of Legal Representation

In 2008, there were only 155 lawyers in the whole country, which translates into 1 lawyer per 46,000 people. Almost all lawyers are based in the economic capital, Cotonou, though they will take clients from other regions. [31]

Other Comments on Criminal Justice System

In its 2008 report to the U.N. Human Rights Council, Benin listed several obstacles to the effective implementation of its international commitments: “the distance that needs to be covered to gain access to courts, the shortage of premises, the lack of basic documentation, obsolete office equipment, the degree of corruption in the judiciary that is prejudicial to public trust in the institution, and interference in judicial matters by the executive branch.” [32]

In January 2008, the number of magistrates was evaluated at 200 for a population of more than 7 million inhabitants. The lack of personnel slows the administration of justice and results in prison overcrowding. [33] The U.S. Department of State reported that in 2009, approximately 75 percent of persons in prison were pretrial detainees, [34] with some pretrial detainees having waited 15 years. [35] In June 2010, the number of pretrial detainees remained at 75% (5,174 of the country’s total 6,908 inmates). [36]

In February 2008, the U.N. Committee against Torture reported allegations of “widespread corruption among judges and police and gendarmerie officers.” The Committee also noted with concern the criminal procedure provisions allowing a public prosecutor to remove a judge from a case, thus endangering judicial impartiality. [37]

References

[1] U.S. Dept. of State, 2010 Human Rights Report: Benin, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2010/af/154331.htm, Apr. 8, 2011. U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Committee Against Torture, Consideration Of Reports Submitted By States Parties Under Article 19 Of The Convention, Conclusions And Recommendations Of The Committee Against Torture, Benin, p. 6, para. 19, U.N. Doc. CAT/C/BEN/CO/2, Feb. 19, 2008.
[2] Joseph H. Gnonlonfoun, La condition pénitentiaire au Bénin: Rapport de mission au Médiateur de la République, pp. 13-14, http://www.mediateur.gouv.bj/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=17&dir=DESC&order=date&Itemid=35&limit=5&limitstart=10, Jul. 6, 2010.
[3] Joseph H. Gnonlonfoun, La condition pénitentiaire au Bénin: Rapport de mission au Médiateur de la République, p. 14, http://www.mediateur.gouv.bj/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=17&dir=DESC&order=date&Itemid=35&limit=5&limitstart=10, Jul. 6, 2010.
[4] Joseph H. Gnonlonfoun, La condition pénitentiaire au Bénin: Rapport de mission au Médiateur de la République, pp. 13-14, http://www.mediateur.gouv.bj/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=17&dir=DESC&order=date&Itemid=35&limit=5&limitstart=10, Jul. 6, 2010.
[5] U.N. Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Report on the Visit of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment to Benin, p. 53, U.N. Doc. CAT/OP/BEN/1, Mar. 15, 2011.
[6] U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Committee Against Torture, Consideration Of Reports Submitted By States Parties Under Article 19 Of The Convention, Conclusions And Recommendations Of The Committee Against Torture, Benin, p. 6, para. 19, U.N. Doc. CAT/C/BEN/CO/2, Feb. 19, 2008.
[7] U.N. Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Replies of the Republic of Benin to the recommendations and requests for information made by the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in its report on its first periodic visit to Benin, p. 12, U.N. Doc. CAT/OP/BEN/1/Add.1, Mar. 28, 2011.
[8] Amnesty Intl., Benin – Amnesty International Report 2011, http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/benin/report-2011, last accessed Feb. 1, 2012. FIACAT & ACAT, Préoccupations de la FIACAT et de l’ACAT Bénin concernant la torture et les mauvais traitements dans les prisons béninoises, Présentées au Conseil des Droits de l’Homme en vue de l’examen du Bénin dans le cadre de l’Examen Périodique Universel, 2eme session du 5 au 16 mai 2008, pp. 1, 3, http://lib.ohchr.org/HRBodies/UPR/Documents/Session2/BJ/FIACAT_BEN_UPR_S2_2008_InternationalFederationofActionbyChristiansfortheAbolitionofTorture_uprsubmission.pdf, Jan. 25, 2008.
[9] FIACAT & ACAT, Préoccupations de la FIACAT et de l’ACAT Bénin concernant la torture et les mauvais traitements dans les prisons béninoises, Présentées au Conseil des Droits de l’Homme en vue de l’examen du Bénin dans le cadre de l’Examen Périodique Universel, 2eme session du 5 au 16 mai 2008, p. 4, http://lib.ohchr.org/HRBodies/UPR/Documents/Session2/BJ/FIACAT_BEN_UPR_S2_2008_InternationalFederationofActionbyChristiansfortheAbolitionofTorture_uprsubmission.pdf, Jan. 25, 2008.
[10] See Joseph H. Gnonlonfoun, La condition pénitentiaire au Bénin: Rapport de mission au Médiateur de la République, p. 14, http://www.mediateur.gouv.bj/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=17&dir=DESC&order=date&Itemid=35&limit=5&limitstart=10, Jul. 6, 2010.
[11] Joseph H. Gnonlonfoun, La condition pénitentiaire au Bénin: Rapport de mission au Médiateur de la République, p. 6, http://www.mediateur.gouv.bj/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=17&dir=DESC&order=date&Itemid=35&limit=5&limitstart=10, Jul. 6, 2010.
[12] Joseph H. Gnonlonfoun, La condition pénitentiaire au Bénin: Rapport de mission au Médiateur de la République, p. 6, http://www.mediateur.gouv.bj/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=17&dir=DESC&order=date&Itemid=35&limit=5&limitstart=10, Jul. 6, 2010.
[13] Joseph H. Gnonlonfoun, La condition pénitentiaire au Bénin: Rapport de mission au Médiateur de la République, p. 6, http://www.mediateur.gouv.bj/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=17&dir=DESC&order=date&Itemid=35&limit=5&limitstart=10, Jul. 6, 2010.
[14] Joseph H. Gnonlonfoun, La condition pénitentiaire au Bénin: Rapport de mission au Médiateur de la République, http://www.mediateur.gouv.bj/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=17&dir=DESC&order=date&Itemid=35&limit=5&limitstart=10, Jul. 6, 2010.
[15] Joseph H. Gnonlonfoun, La condition pénitentiaire au Bénin: Rapport de mission au Médiateur de la République, pp. 9, 10, 12, http://www.mediateur.gouv.bj/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=17&dir=DESC&order=date&Itemid=35&limit=5&limitstart=10, Jul. 6, 2010.
[16] Joseph H. Gnonlonfoun, La condition pénitentiaire au Bénin: Rapport de mission au Médiateur de la République, p. 17, http://www.mediateur.gouv.bj/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=17&dir=DESC&order=date&Itemid=35&limit=5&limitstart=10, Jul. 6, 2010.
[17] Joseph H. Gnonlonfoun, La condition pénitentiaire au Bénin: Rapport de mission au Médiateur de la République, p. 24, http://www.mediateur.gouv.bj/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=17&dir=DESC&order=date&Itemid=35&limit=5&limitstart=10, Jul. 6, 2010.
[18] Joseph H. Gnonlonfoun, La condition pénitentiaire au Bénin: Rapport de mission au Médiateur de la République, p. 14, http://www.mediateur.gouv.bj/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=17&dir=DESC&order=date&Itemid=35&limit=5&limitstart=10, Jul. 6, 2010.
[19] Joseph H. Gnonlonfoun, La condition pénitentiaire au Bénin: Rapport de mission au Médiateur de la République, p. 14, http://www.mediateur.gouv.bj/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=17&dir=DESC&order=date&Itemid=35&limit=5&limitstart=10, Jul. 6, 2010.
[20] Amnesty Intl., Benin closer to abolishing the death penalty, http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/benin-closer-abolishing-death-penalty-2011-08-19, Aug. 19, 2011.
[21] Amnesty Intl., Benin: Death penalty, AFR 14/001/1998, Oct. 8, 1998.
[22] Joseph H. Gnonlonfoun, La condition pénitentiaire au Bénin: Rapport de mission au Médiateur de la République, p. 14, http://www.mediateur.gouv.bj/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=17&dir=DESC&order=date&Itemid=35&limit=5&limitstart=10, Jul. 6, 2010.
[23] Amnesty Intl., Benin closer to abolishing the death penalty, http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/benin-closer-abolishing-death-penalty-2011-08-19, Aug. 19, 2011.
[24] Amnesty Intl., Benin: Death penalty, AFR 14/001/1998, Oct. 8, 1998.
[25] Amnesty Intl., Benin closer to abolishing the death penalty, http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/benin-closer-abolishing-death-penalty-2011-08-19, Aug. 19, 2011.
[26] Joseph Djogbenou, Bénin : Le secteur de la justice et l’Etat de droit : Une étude d’AfriMAP et de l’Open Society Initiative for West Africa, p. 89, n. 302, Open Society Initiative for West Africa, http://www.afrimap.org/report.php#Benin, 2010.
[27] Joseph H. Gnonlonfoun, La condition pénitentiaire au Bénin: Rapport de mission au Médiateur de la République, p. 14, http://www.mediateur.gouv.bj/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=17&dir=DESC&order=date&Itemid=35&limit=5&limitstart=10, Jul. 6, 2010.
[28] U.N. ICCPR Human Rights Committee, Consideration Of Reports Submitted By States Parties Under Article 40 Of The Covenant, Concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee, Benin, para. 20, U.N. Doc. CCPR/CO/82/BEN, Dec. 1, 2004.
[29] Joseph Djogbenou, Bénin : Le secteur de la justice et l’Etat de droit : Une étude d’AfriMAP et de l’Open Society Initiative for West Africa, pp. 65-66, Open Society Initiative for West Africa, http://www.afrimap.org/report.php#Benin, 2010.
[30] Ordinance on the Composition, Organization, Operation and Attributions of the Supreme Court, art. 42, No. 21/PR, Apr. 26, 1966.
[31] Joseph Djogbenou, Bénin : Le secteur de la justice et l’Etat de droit : Une étude d’AfriMAP et de l’Open Society Initiative for West Africa, pp. 65-67, Open Society Initiative for West Africa, http://www.afrimap.org/report.php#Benin, 2010.
[32] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, National Report Submitted In Accordance With Paragraph 15(A) Of The Annex To Human Rights Council Resolution 5/1, Benin, p. 16, para. 81, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/WG.6/2/BEN/1, Apr. 9, 2008.
[33] FIACAT & ACAT, Préoccupations de la FIACAT et de l’ACAT Bénin concernant la torture et les mauvais traitements dans les prisons béninoises, Présentées au Conseil des Droits de l’Homme en vue de l’examen du Bénin dans le cadre de l’Examen Périodique Universel, 2eme session du 5 au 16 mai 2008, p. 3, http://lib.ohchr.org/HRBodies/UPR/Documents/Session2/BJ/FIACAT_BEN_UPR_S2_2008_InternationalFederationofActionbyChristiansfortheAbolitionofTorture_uprsubmission.pdf, Jan. 25, 2008.
[34] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Benin, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/af/135938.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[35] FIACAT & ACAT, Préoccupations de la FIACAT et de l’ACAT Bénin concernant la torture et les mauvais traitements dans les prisons béninoises, Présentées au Conseil des Droits de l’Homme en vue de l’examen du Bénin dans le cadre de l’Examen Périodique Universel, 2eme session du 5 au 16 mai 2008, p. 3, http://lib.ohchr.org/HRBodies/UPR/Documents/Session2/BJ/FIACAT_BEN_UPR_S2_2008_InternationalFederationofActionbyChristiansfortheAbolitionofTorture_uprsubmission.pdf, Jan. 25, 2008.
[36] U.S. Dept. of State, 2010 Human Rights Report: Benin, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/af/135938.htm, Apr. 8, 2011.
[37] U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Committee Against Torture, Consideration Of Reports Submitted By States Parties Under Article 19 Of The Convention, Conclusions And Recommendations Of The Committee Against Torture, Benin, pp. 4-5, para. 13, U.N. Doc. CAT/C/BEN/CO/2, Feb. 19, 2008.

Decisions of International Human Rights Bodies

Decisions of Human Rights Committee

In its 2004 Concluding Observations, the U.N. Human Rights Committee, while welcoming that no one had been executed in almost 18 years, noted with concern “that capital punishment is not limited to the most serious crimes, (…) that some individuals have been on death row for many years, and [was] disturbed by contradictory reports regarding their conditions of detention.” The Committee therefore recommended that Benin limit the death penalty to the most serious crimes; consider abolishing the death penalty and acceding to the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR; commute all existing death sentences into terms of imprisonment; monitor the detention conditions of those on death row and ensure that the U.N. Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners are respected. [1]

The Committee also noted that it was concerned by “allegations that abuse of the system of police custody, torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment are common practice in Benin;” [2] by “the situation in prisons, particularly in the areas of sanitation and access to health care and food, (…) the extreme overcrowding of prisons,” by the fact that “juveniles are not always held separately from adults,” [3] and by the fact “that in the Assize Court a lawyer is appointed only during the final questioning before the actual hearing, a situation that does not guarantee that the right to a defense is respected.” [4]

Decisions of Other Human Rights Bodies

In March 2011, the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture, and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment issued recommendations to Benin following its visit in May 2008.
• The Subcommittee recommended that all death sentences be commuted so that there would be “a possibility of review and eventual release.” [5]
• The Subcommittee visited death row, which in May 2008 was located inside Cotonou Prison. Death row consisted of a single 10 m2 cell for all 16 death-sentenced prisoners. The cell was airless, hot, poorly lit, and infested with rats. The prisoners had no access to family visits. They were allowed to leave the cell once every month for 15 minutes to be shaved, and this was the only time they could see the sky. A member of the delegation entered the cell to speak to the prisoners, and was told this was the first time that anyone had been in the cell in 10 years (the longest serving prisoner had arrived in July 1998. The prison director described death row inmates as presenting significant risks because “they had nothing to lose,” and said they were spoilt and received preferential treatment, which did not correspond with the delegation’s observations. The Subcommittee also described death row as “not safe” in case of emergencies because it took “quite some time” for the staff to find the keys for the four padlocks on the door. [6] The Subcommittee characterized death row as “an affront to human dignity [constituting] cruel and inhuman punishment.” It recommended that alternative accomodation be provided to death row inmates “as a matter of urgency.” [7]
• The Subcommittee was concerned with the food supply of death row prisoners. It observed that two male adolescent detainees were assigned the task to buy and prepare food for the death row inmates, in violation of the rule that adults and minors should be imprisoned separately. This arrangement also meant that death-sentenced prisoners had “little or no access to food to supplement the daily ration provided by the prison.” [8]
• The Subcommitte on Prevention of Torture also noted that there was no system to investigate or record deaths occurring in custody. Of the 16 prisoners on death row at the time of the Subcommittee’s visit, [9] two died within the next two years from unknown causes. [10]
• Death row prisoners reported to the Subcommittee that when one of them had a health issue, a nurse would consult with them through the bars of the cell door but never entered the cell. Two death-row prisoners reported that they had become blind while in prison without receiving specialist attention. Death-sentenced inmates also reported long delays, some as long as a month, between a request for medical attention and a nurse’s visit. The Subcommittee recommended that authorities take measures to ensure that prisoners obtained medical attention without delay, and that medical consultations occur in an appropriate setting. [11]
• The Subcommittee recommended that authorities provide activities and programs to all inmates, included those who were sentenced to death, stating that “enforced total inactivity over a prolonged period is inhuman.” [12]
• The Subcommittee found that most prisoners did not know which stage of procedure their case had reached, and recommended that all prisoners, including those sentenced to death, have the possibility of communicating with their lawyers and families. [13]
• Finally, the Subcommittee expressed serious concerns about the possibility of repercussions following their visits, noting that several prisoners had been warned not to talk frankly to the delegation. [14]
In response to the Subcommittee’s Report, Benin moved death row prisoners death row prisoners were moved from Cotonou to a newer prison in Akpro-Missérété, [15] where conditions of confinement are reported to be the least inhuman in the country. [16]

Benin’s last Universal Periodic Review took place in May 2008. Benin received the following recommendations:
• to continue its efforts to completely abolish the death penalty, thus respecting every human being’s right to life; [17]
• to consider abolishing the death penalty and ratifying the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights aiming at the abolition of the death penalty; [18]
• to ensure that no statement obtained under torture or duress can be invoked in proceedings and that orders from a superior may not be invoked as a justification of torture; [19]
• to take effective measures to ensure that prison conditions are consistent with international standards; [20] and
• to establish as a priority a reform of the judiciary by strengthening a justice system which would be better able to combat impunity and corruption, including by putting an end to exaggerated pre-trial detention. [21]

In February 2008, the U.N. Committee Against Torture expressed concern “at the deplorable conditions of detention of convicted prisoners on death row, which amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment (…)” and recommended Benin to “take all necessary measures to improve the conditions of detention of prisoners on death row in order to guarantee their basic needs and rights” and to commute death sentences. [22]

References

[1] U.N. ICCPR Human Rights Committee, Consideration Of Reports Submitted By States Parties Under Article 40 Of The Covenant, Concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee, Benin, para. 13, U.N. Doc. CCPR/CO/82/BEN, Dec. 1, 2004.
[2] U.N. ICCPR Human Rights Committee, Consideration Of Reports Submitted By States Parties Under Article 40 Of The Covenant, Concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee, Benin, para. 15, U.N. Doc. CCPR/CO/82/BEN, Dec. 1, 2004.
[3] U.N. ICCPR Human Rights Committee, Consideration Of Reports Submitted By States Parties Under Article 40 Of The Covenant, Concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee, Benin, para. 17, U.N. Doc. CCPR/CO/82/BEN, Dec. 1, 2004.
[4] U.N. ICCPR Human Rights Committee, Consideration Of Reports Submitted By States Parties Under Article 40 Of The Covenant, Concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee, Benin, para. 20, U.N. Doc. CCPR/CO/82/BEN, Dec. 1, 2004.
[5] U.N. Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Report on the Visit of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment to Benin, p. 31, U.N. Doc. CAT/OP/BEN/1, Mar. 15, 2011.
[6] U.N. Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Report on the Visit of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment to Benin, p. 54, U.N. Doc. CAT/OP/BEN/1, Mar. 15, 2011.
[7] U.N. Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Report on the Visit of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment to Benin, p. 53, U.N. Doc. CAT/OP/BEN/1, Mar. 15, 2011.
[8] U.N. Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Report on the Visit of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment to Benin, p. 39, U.N. Doc. CAT/OP/BEN/1, Mar. 15, 2011.
[9] U.N. Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Report on the Visit of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment to Benin, p. 29, U.N. Doc. CAT/OP/BEN/1, Mar. 15, 2011.
[10] Joseph H. Gnonlonfoun, La condition pénitentiaire au Bénin: Rapport de mission au Médiateur de la République, p. 14, http://www.mediateur.gouv.bj/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=17&dir=DESC&order=date&Itemid=35&limit=5&limitstart=10, Jul. 6, 2010.
[11] U.N. Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Report on the Visit of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment to Benin, pp. 43-44, U.N. Doc. CAT/OP/BEN/1, Mar. 15, 2011.
[12] U.N. Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Report on the Visit of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment to Benin, p. 50, U.N. Doc. CAT/OP/BEN/1, Mar. 15, 2011.
[13] U.N. Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Report on the Visit of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment to Benin, p. 54, U.N. Doc. CAT/OP/BEN/1, Mar. 15, 2011.
[14] U.N. Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Report on the Visit of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment to Benin, p. 56, U.N. Doc. CAT/OP/BEN/1, Mar. 15, 2011.
[15] U.N. Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Replies of the Republic of Benin to the recommendations and requests for information made by the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in its report on its first periodic visit to Benin, p. 12, U.N. Doc. CAT/OP/BEN/1/Add.1, Mar. 28, 2011.
[16] Joseph H. Gnonlonfoun, La condition pénitentiaire au Bénin: Rapport de mission au Médiateur de la République, p. 14, http://www.mediateur.gouv.bj/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=17&dir=DESC&order=date&Itemid=35&limit=5&limitstart=10, Jul. 6, 2010.
[17] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Universal Periodic Review, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, Benin, p. 15, para. 56.7, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/8/39, May 28, 2008.
[18] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Universal Periodic Review, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, Benin, p. 15, para. 56.8, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/8/39, May 28, 2008.
[19] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Universal Periodic Review, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, Benin, p. 16, para. 56.14, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/8/39, May 28, 2008. See also paras. 56.12-16 regarding torture.
[20] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Universal Periodic Review, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, Benin, p. 16, para. 56.17, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/8/39, May 28, 2008.
[21] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Universal Periodic Review, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, Benin, p. 16, para. 56.23, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/8/39, May 28, 2008.
[22] U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Committee Against Torture, Consideration Of Reports Submitted By States Parties Under Article 19 Of The Convention, Conclusions And Recommendations Of The Committee Against Torture, Benin, p. 6, para. 19, U.N. Doc. CAT/C/BEN/CO/2, Feb. 19, 2008.

Additional Sources and Contacts

Direct member(s) of World Coalition Against the Death Penalty

None.

Other non-governmental organizations and individuals engaged in advocacy surrounding the death penalty

None.

Helpful Reports and Publications

Ahonagnon Noel Gbaguidi & William Kodjoh-Kpakpassou, Introduction au Système Juridique et Judiciaire du Bénin, GlobaLex, http://www.nyulawglobal.com/globalex/BENIN.htm, Mar.-Apr., 2009.

Joseph Djogbenou, Bénin : Le secteur de la justice et l’Etat de droit : Une étude d’AfriMAP et de l’Open Society Initiative for West Africa, Open Society Initiative for West Africa, http://www.afrimap.org/report.php#Benin, 2010.

Joseph H. Gnonlonfoun, La condition pénitentiaire au Bénin: Rapport de mission au Médiateur de la République, http://www.mediateur.gouv.bj/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=17&dir=DESC&order=date&Itemid=35&limit=5&limitstart=10, Jul. 6, 2010.

U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Committee Against Torture, Consideration Of Reports Submitted By States Parties Under Article 19 Of The Convention, Conclusions And Recommendations Of The Committee Against Torture, Benin, U.N. Doc. CAT/C/BEN/CO/2, Feb. 19, 2008.

U.N. Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Report on the Visit of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment to Benin, U.N. Doc. CAT/OP/BEN/1, Mar. 15, 2011.

Additional notes regarding this country

None.

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