Paris-Porto-Novo, 22 August 2011
On 18 August 2011, the members of Benin’s Parliament voted by a very large majority to abolish the death penalty in their country. After years of work, the International Federation of Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (FIACAT) and ACAT Benin welcome this step forward.
With 54 votes in favour, 5 against and 6 abstentions, the members of the Benin Parliament authorised Benin to sign up to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Article 1 of this Protocol provides that:
“1. No one within the jurisdiction of a State Party to the present Protocol shall be executed.
2. Each State Party shall take all necessary measures to abolish the death penalty within its jurisdiction.”
Benin must now remove all references to the death penalty from its criminal law and commute the sentences of the 14 people on death row in the civilian prison at Akpro-Missérété near Cotonou. FIACAT and ACAT Benin will ensure that this Protocol is effectively implemented.
Several times in recent years the Benin Government has given undertakings to the United Nations and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to abolish the death penalty and ratify the Second Protocol. Since 2007, FIACAT and ACAT Benin have regularly been meeting members of the Benin Government and Parliament to encourage them to implement these commitments. The Parliament’s decision is the result of long-term work by Benin civil society organisations and particularly ACAT Benin, supported by its Federation.
The Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights was adopted in 1989 by the United Nations General Assembly. It is the only universal treaty which provides for definitive abolition of the death penalty. Benin is the ninth African State to ratify this Protocol, and brings to 74 the number of countries to have adopted it worldwide.