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The political context in Benin was, until recently, considered as relatively stable, with a democratic government holding regular elections. However, the legislative elections of 2019 were marked by demonstrations that were violently repressed. Benin also seems to be increasingly affected by the threat of terrorist groups whose activity extends to the regional level.
The OMCT has been working in Benin for more than two decades, together with Enfants Solidaires d’Afrique et du Monde (ESAM) and other members of the SOS-Torture Network, such as ACAT Benin. Our work combining advocacy at the national and international level, monitoring of places of detention of children, as well as training of members of the judiciary, the security forces and the penitentiary, has led to significant progress. This includes the adoption of the Code de l’Enfant and of the Penal Code, but also a decrease in the number of children detained, the separation of children from adults in detention, and improvements in their detention conditions, among others.
Despite Benin ratifying both the Convention against Torture and its Optional Protocol, the implementation of these treaties and their recommendations is far from ideal, with a human rights situation that remains very problematic. Children in particular continue to be victims of abuse, violence and other forms of ill-treatment. In 2019, following a high-level mission to the country, the OMCT and its partner ESAM submitted an alternative report to the Committee Against Torture (CAT). The CAT issued major recommendations, including for the State to align its definition of torture with the Convention; to improve the detention conditions of children; reduce pre-trial detention, including of children, and grant accredited NGOs access to detention facilities.