Benin approves new Code of Criminal Procedure

Benin follows recommendations of Committee Against Torture and passes new Code of Criminal Procedure

On Friday 30 March 2012, Benin Assembly deputies unanimously passed Law No.2012-15 setting out the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Republic of Benin.

Conditions of detention in Benin are often comparable with cruel, inhuman and degrading treatments. Prison overpopulation is endemic and the majority of the prison population consists of persons in pre-trial detention.

According to the Minister of Justice, Legislation and Human Rights, Marie-Elise Gbèdo, one such detainee was held in preventive custody for 19 years, before being eventually sentenced to 7 years’ imprisonment.

The Committee Against Torture broadly recommended in 2007 that the Benin authorities "reform the provisions of its Code of Criminal Procedure relating to police custody so as to ensure that persons held in custody are effectively protected from physical and mental harm. In particular, the draft Code of Criminal Procedure should guarantee the right to consult a lawyer and a doctor of one’s choice and to contact family members, and should also include the principle of presumption of innocence and the obligation to inform all arrested persons of their right to receive legal assistance."

Although the law has been passed, it remains to be promulgated before it comes into effect.

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