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[Press Release] Human Rights Day: Benin Must Ban Torture

December 2013

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Paris, 10 December 2013 – Criminalizing torture in its criminal legislation is the first step for states to prevent it. Such incrimination is a legal basis to ensure that victims of torture can obtain justice and reparation.On the occasion of the Human Rights Day 2013, FIACAT and the whole ACAT network urge Benin to criminalize torture in its Penal Code

Benin acceded to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment on 12 March 1992. Article 4 of this Convention provides that: “1. Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law. (…) 2. Each State Party shall make these offences punishable by appropriate penalties which take into account their grave nature.”

At its 45th Ordinary Session in May 2009, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AHCPR) recommended that Benin take penal and disciplinary measures as quickly as possible against the perpetrators of torture. In October 2012, during the Universal Periodic Review at the United Nations, Benin accepted the recommendation by France that it should take all necessary measures to define and criminalize torture in the draft Penal Code.

FIACAT welcome the efforts Benin has made in recent years to promote human rights within its borders. It therefore urges Parliament to adopt the draft Penal Code being debated during the parliamentary session, which began on 24 October last.

On the occasion of the Human Rights Day 2013, FIACAT urges the Benin Parliament to ensure that the Code does indeed make torture a criminal offence, that an order from a superior or a public authority cannot be justification for such offences and that confessions obtained by torture can in no case be used as evidence in court.

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Furthermore, in Benin, but also in Burundi and Côte d’Ivoire, the excessive use of pre-trial detention is a common practice that exposes a growing number of people at risk of being tortured. FIACAT’s project DPA 3.9 (abusive pre-trial detention, three countries, nine prisons) aims to support inmates awaiting trial to reduce overcrowding and ill-treatment in prison.

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