Benin: Draft Law on the Recognition, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights Defenders in the Republic of Benin

In September 2018, a draft law on the Recognition, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights Defenders in the Republic of Benin was validated by a working group on the protection of defenders created by Amnesty International, referred to as the Platform of Human Rights Defenders in Benin. The draft law was then submitted to government authorities, where no further steps have been taken towards its implementation as of yet.

The draft law was developed in collaboration with Amnesty International, who continue to push for the adoption of this law by the government of Benin. It contains many articles from the 1998 UN Declaration on HRDs, and is structured in four chapters: the first containing general provisions concerning the implementation of the law, the second regarding the rights and duties of human rights defenders, the third regarding the responsibilities of the State and the fourth containing final provisions.

The draft law differs from the UN Declaration in several aspects, such as Article 15 and Article 16, which mention women rights defenders and defenders with a disability as protected persons under the declaration. The third chapter adds new provisions regarding the obligations of the State: it does not formulate a duty of the State to protect human rights defenders as such, but does mention several measures that are to be taken by the State to improve the security of human rights defenders. These include measures for the protection of the confidentiality of defenders’ sources (Art. 24), measures for the protection of defenders, their family and their collaborators (Art. 25), measures to protect defenders against attacks by non-State actors (Art. 27). The draft law also include the prohibition for the State to send defenders off to territories where they risk to be persecuted (Art. 27), as well as the obligation to provide effective and timely sanctions for attacks against defenders (Art. 28).

All in all, the law contains many positive provisions, but lacks a tangible description of measures that should be taken for the protection of defenders. When read without strong background knowledge on the subject, it appears that this law provides little instruction for the effective protection of defenders in Benin.  

Updated on 30/01/2023