The 1990 Constitution of Benin stipulates that: "Each individual has the right to life, liberty, security and the integrity of his person."Art. 15, 1990 Constitution of Benin.It is also provided that: "No one shall be submitted to torture, nor to maltreatment, nor to cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment."Art. 18, 1990 Constitution of Benin.The Constitution further declares that:
Any individual or any agent of the State who shall be found responsible for an act of torture or of maltreatment or of cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment in the exercise of, or at the time of the exercise of his duties, whether of his own initiative or whether under instruction, shall be punished in accordance with the law.
Any individual or any agent of the State shall be absolved of the duty of obedience when the order received shall constitute a serious and manifest infringement with respect to human rights and public liberties.Art. 19, 1990 Constitution of Benin.
According to Article 25 of the Constitution, the state "shall recognize and guarantee, under conditions fixed by law, the freedom to go and come, the freedom of association, of assembly, of procession and of demonstration."
The Constitution does not specifically regulate the use of force by the police or other law enforcement agency in Benin.
|1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)||State Party|
|ICCPR Optional Protocol 1||State Party|
|1984 Convention against Torture (CAT)||State Party|
|Competence of CAT Committee to receive individual complaints||No|
|CAT Optional Protocol 1||State Party|
|1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court||State Party|
|1981 African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights||State Party|
|1998 Protocol to the African Charter on the African Court||State Party|
|Article 34(6) declaration regarding individual petitions||Withdrawn|
|Malabo Protocol on the African Court of Justice and Human Rights||Signatory|
Police Use of Force
Law enforcement in Benin is provided by the Republican Police (DGPR), which combines and replaces the former national police and gendarmerie. The DGPR is responsible for national security, law and order, and the protection of people and property.
Article 28 of the 2018 Penal Code states that a person will not be held criminally responsible for acts committed in self-defense or defence of others, unless the use of force is disproportionate to the seriousness of the threat.
Articles 23 to 25 of Decree No 2005-377 of 23 June 2005 on Regulation of the Maintenance of Public Order allow law enforcement agencies to use force to disperse assemblies either following warnings or when “serious violence is exercised by demonstrators towards law enforcement or security forces”.
With respect to firearms, the 2005 Decree states that they may be used without express order
when the forces of the law and order are the subject of serious and widespread violence and may otherwise defend the places, persons or materials they have the mission to keep or otherwise ensure their own safety. The use of arms can only be justified for isolated agents in cases of self-defence.Art. 27, Decree No 2005-377 of 23 June 2005 on Regulation of the Maintenance of Public Order.
This is more permissive than international law allows.
Article 28 of the 2005 Decree prohibits the firing of blank rounds and shooting in the air. Article 20 implies, though, that firearms without rounds may be used for the purpose of pistol whipping. This would also violate international law as it would amount to inhumane treatment.
In July 2018, Benin’s Council of Ministers appointed a permanent secretary to coordinate the country’s preventive measures on terrorism. The government established a National Commission for Countering Radicalisation, Violent Extremism and Terrorism, which will also help adapt national law with a view to preventing and combating violent extremism.
The Benin Human Rights Commission (Commission Béninoise des Droits de l'Homme) is competent to hear allegations of excessive or indiscriminate use of force by the Benin police.
Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies
In its 2019 Concluding Observations on Benin, the Committee against Torture expressed its concern
at reports that, on 1 May 2019, in Cotonou, after the announcement of the results of the parliamentary elections, the Beninese law enforcement agencies and the armed forces suppressed demonstrations with excessive use of force, including the use of live ammunition against hundreds of protesters surrounding the former president's residence to show their support for him, which resulted in the death of at least two people....
The Committee called upon Benin
to conduct prompt and impartial and thorough investigations into all allegations of excessive use of force, and to develop clear guidelines on the use of force and firearms incorporating the principles of legitimacy, necessity, proportionality and precaution.
It also called upon Benin to ensure its laws and regulations governing the use of force is made consistent with international standards, including the 1990 UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials.
In its 2015 Concluding Observations on Benin, the Human Rights Committee expressed its concern "at the excessive use of force on the part of law enforcement officials". It called on Benin to
take practical steps to prevent the excessive use of force by law enforcement officials by ensuring that they comply with the 1990 Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials.
During its 2017 Universal Periodic Review (UPR) under the UN Human Rights Council, Benin claimed that the security forces had not used excessive force while policing recent demonstrations. It said that the Government would have applied sanctions in the event of police abuses.
The African Court does not have jurisdiction to hear cases concerning violations of human rights by Benin.
During its 2017 UPR under the Human Rights Council, Benin claimed that the Constitutional Court frequently hands down guilty verdicts for acts of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment committed by police officers.