One step further in torture prevention in Benin: the SPT's report is now public
The APT welcomes the recent publication of the SPT report by Benin and hopes that this important step will assist all relevant actors in further strengthening their preventive work.
Benin was one of the very first States Parties to the OPCAT that was visited by the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT). In May 2008, a delegation of four SPT members, accompanied by an expert, three OHCHR staff and three interpreters, conducted a visit to Benin to advise the State on the development of its national preventive mechanism (NPM) and propose preventive measures to improve the system of deprivation of liberty. During their visit, the SPT delegation focused on the situation and protection of persons deprived of their liberty in police facilities (5), gendarmeries (5) and prisons (3).
In its report, the SPT provides comments on the draft NPM legislation establishing a National Observatory for Prevention of Torture. The SPT considers that it "contains provisions capable of establishing a firm basis for the NPM, and generally in line with the preliminary guidelines on the development of NPMs". The SPT also highlights a few concerns, including regarding the future composition of the NPM and the need to include medical professionals, its financial autonomy and management and the need to include its modalities of work within the NPM legislation and not within a decree. Finally, the SPT recommends that the process be completed with all possible speed. The draft legislation is available at Annex 3 of the report. As of March 2011, Benin has not established its NPM yet.
The SPT report provides an overview of the formal safeguards against ill-treatment in Benin, including:
- the legal framework (primary legislations and codes)
- the institutional frameworks (system for complaints, monitoring and legal aid assistance)
Following its visits to gendarmerie and police facilities, as well as prisons, the SPT made recommendations on criminal justice issues, prison healthcare, prison conditions, prison medical screening and prison records, as well as general recommendations on safeguards related to deprivation of liberty in those places.
The APT welcomes the recent publication of the SPT report by Benin and hopes that this important step will assist all relevant actors in further strengthening their preventive work and make a breakthrough with the establishment of the National Observatory for Prevention of Torture. The publication of the SPT report by Benin is also in the line with the outcome of the April 2010 Dakar Conference on the OPCAT, i.e. Dakar plan of action for the prevention of torture in Africa. Benin sets a benchmark that should be followed by other countries to be visited by the SPT in the region.
For more information on Benin, please see our OPCAT Database at www.apt.ch/opcat