Geneva, 8 February 2016 – The United NationsCommittee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) said Beninhad failed to properly implement its recommendations from 10 years ago as insome of its underfunded prisons, juveniles – who are mixed with adults – arevictims of widespread physical and psychological violence.
This conclusion,which is similar to the concern OMCT expressed after a November 2015 visit tothe country, comes after the UNCRC examined a report put together by theGovernment of Benin itself. OMCT and its member organization provided the UNchild rights watchdog with what is known as a “shadow reports” containingindependently 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 civilprisons in Benin to verify to what extent the 2008 recommendations of the Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture (SPT) had beenbeing implemented in the country. The interviewees testifiedto their on-going detention with adults, which constitutes a violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Childand leads to violence – including sexual abuse – against them.
“The worst thing that could happen to a child detained in Benin is to bemixed with adults as it inherently leads to violence and abuse,” said OMCT Executive Council member Aminata Dieye, who was invited as expertduring OMCT’s last mission in the country.
Many of the Beninese children OMCT had interviewed reported to have hadto pay adult prisoners for a place to sleep and to have been forced to move tothe toilets if they could not afford to. They also said water and food were ininsufficient supply. In the prison of Abomey, water had been rationed forseveral months, affecting most severely mothers with small children.
OMCT and ESAMwelcome and stress the UNCRC’s concludingobservations that followed the visit, urging Benin to:
· Ensure the provisionof qualified and independent legal aid to children in conflict with the law atan early stage of the procedure and throughout the legal proceedings;
· Promote alternativemeasures to detention, such as diversion, probation, mediation, counselling, orcommunity service, wherever possible, and ensure that detention is used as alast resort and for the shortest possible period of time and that it isreviewed on a regular basis with a view to withdrawing it;
· Investigate allallegations of torture or ill-treatment, prosecute and punish law enforcementofficers responsible for such abuses against children deprived of liberty;
· Create and establish atorture prevention mechanism (Observatory for the Prevention of Torture) underthe Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture. In particular, ensurethat prison authorities facilitate individual private interviews with detainedchildren and staff during visits by independent bodies such as NGOs;
· In cases wheredetention is unavoidable, ensure that the children are not detained togetherwith adults and that detention conditions are compliant with internationalstandards, including with regard to access to education and health services.
Since 2009, OMCT and ESAM (member of OMCT’sSOS-Torture Network) have worked together to fight torture of childrendeprived of liberty in Benin, through the implementation of a wide rangeof activities, including monitoring of civil prisons, advocacy and training.
For further informationplease contact:
Lori Brumat, OMCT Head of Communications, email@example.com, +41 22 809 49 33
Carolina Barbara, OMCT ChildRights Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org, +41 22 809 49 38