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[Press Release] Papal visit to Benin: Benedict XVI advocates respect for prisoners’ dignity and abolition of the death penalty

November 2011

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Pope Benedict XVI visited Benin from 18 to 20 November 2011. One of the purposes of the visit was to present delegations of bishops from the whole continent with a “roadmap for Africa” resulting from the Synod of African bishops held in Rome in 2009.
Among the 57 proposals which emerged from this gathering were two recommendations on ending capital punishment in Africa and on more humane prison conditions and a ban on maltreatment of prisoners. At the time, FIACAT was very glad to see these priorities included among the bishops’ recommendations.

In the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Africae Munus, signed by Benedict XVI in Ouidah (Benin) on 19 November last, the Pope addressed all of these concerns.
In this document, he declares that “Independent judiciary and prison systems are urgently needed […] for the restoration of justice and the rehabilitation of offenders. It is time to put a stop to miscarriages of justice and ill-treatment of prisoners, and the widespread non-enforcement of the law ... which represents a violation of human rights, as well as imprisonment either without trial or else with much-delayed trial”. He goes on to state that “Prisoners are human persons who, despite their crime, deserve to be treated with respect and dignity”.
The Pope then “draw[s] the attention of society’s leaders to the need to make every effort to eliminate the death penalty and to reform the penal system in a way that ensures respect for the prisoners’ human dignity”.

FIACAT regards the fight to do away with the death penalty and end torture and inhuman treatment of prisoners as an imperative for all Christians. It therefore urges all the ACAT associations and the Churches and religious communities to take these recommendations as a basis for even greater efforts to campaign against torture of prisoners and against the death penalty.

FIACAT also urges all the African states that have not yet done so, and in particular Benin, to abolish the death penalty without further delay. Accession to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights was in fact authorised by the Benin Parliament on 18 August 2011 but the Benin Government has not yet ratified this international instrument on abolition.

Press contact:

- Guillaume Colin: g.colin@fiacat.org - +33 1 42 80 01 60

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