Benin: UN Child Rights watchdog says children detained in Benin still victims of torture and ill-treatment
Geneva, 8 February 2016 – The United Nations
Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) said Benin
had failed to properly implement its recommendations from 10 years ago as in
some of its underfunded prisons, juveniles – who are mixed with adults – are
victims of widespread physical and psychological violence.
which is similar to the concern OMCT expressed after a November 2015 visit to
the country, comes after the UNCRC examined a report put together by the
Government of Benin itself. OMCT and its member organization provided the UN
child rights watchdog with what is known as a “shadow reports” containing
independently collected information on issues of concern to the UNCRC.
OMCT and its local partner Enfants Solidaires d’Afrique et du Monde (ESAM) have until November 2015 interviewed children detained in all civil
prisons in Benin to verify to what extent the 2008 recommendations of the Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture (SPT) had been
being implemented in the country. The interviewees testified
to their on-going detention with adults, which constitutes a violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child
and leads to violence – including sexual abuse – against them.
“The worst thing that could happen to a child detained in Benin is to be
mixed with adults as it inherently leads to violence and abuse,” said OMCT Executive Council member Aminata Dieye, who was invited as expert
during OMCT’s last mission in the country.
Many of the Beninese children OMCT had interviewed reported to have had
to pay adult prisoners for a place to sleep and to have been forced to move to
the toilets if they could not afford to. They also said water and food were in
insufficient supply. In the prison of Abomey, water had been rationed for
several months, affecting most severely mothers with small children.
OMCT and ESAM
welcome and stress the UNCRC’s concluding
observations that followed the visit, urging Benin to:
Ensure the provision
of qualified and independent legal aid to children in conflict with the law at
an early stage of the procedure and throughout the legal proceedings;
measures to detention, such as diversion, probation, mediation, counselling, or
community service, wherever possible, and ensure that detention is used as a
last resort and for the shortest possible period of time and that it is
reviewed on a regular basis with a view to withdrawing it;
allegations of torture or ill-treatment, prosecute and punish law enforcement
officers responsible for such abuses against children deprived of liberty;
Create and establish a
torture prevention mechanism (Observatory for the Prevention of Torture) under
the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture. In particular, ensure
that prison authorities facilitate individual private interviews with detained
children and staff during visits by independent bodies such as NGOs;
In cases where
detention is unavoidable, ensure that the children are not detained together
with adults and that detention conditions are compliant with international
standards, including with regard to access to education and health services.
Since 2009, OMCT and ESAM (member of OMCT’s
SOS-Torture Network) have worked together to fight torture of children
deprived of liberty in Benin, through the implementation of a wide range
of activities, including monitoring of civil prisons, advocacy and training.
For further information
Lori Brumat, OMCT Head of Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org, +41 22 809 49 33
Carolina Barbara, OMCT Child
Rights Coordinator, email@example.com, +41 22 809 49 38