Benin: Close to Abolition?

The Death Penalty Worldwide database has updated its entry for Benin, available here. The West African state has not carried out any executions since 1987, and is considered to be an “abolitionist de facto” state. Unlike Jamaica, the abolitionist de facto state covered in last week’s post, Benin seems poised to eliminate the death penalty from its legal system. In August of last year, Benin’s National Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favor of ratifying the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, whose state parties commit to abolishing the death penalty. (There were 54 votes in favor, 5 against and 6 abstentions.)  The vote demonstrated a broad political consensus on the need to abolish the death penalty, and complete abolition was expected within a few months. While as of today, Benin has not yet signed the Second Optional Protocol, President Yayi Boni has publicly expressed his support for abolition. Indeed, Benin hosted a regional death penalty conference organized by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights in April 2010.

It is to be hoped that Mr. Boni, who was elected chairman of the African Union a few days ago, will soon act on his clear political mandate to end capital punishment, and will bring his commitment to abolition to his new regional role.