Benin: the establishment of an effective NPM

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Purpose: To support Benin to design and establish an effective NPM as required under the OPCAT. To familiarize national actors with the OPCAT. To explain to national actors the role and advantages of NPM under OPCAT. To assess and analyze national situation towards establishment of a NPM. To develop a roadmap to guide national authorities in the establishment of a NPM.

New: Detailed Seminar Report (French only)

Date: 17-18 July 2007

Place: Cotonou, Benin

Partners: Ministry of Justice

Activities: A national seminar was organized jointly by the APT and the Ministry of Justice on the establishment of an effective NPM. The seminar gathered about 30 national key actors including representatives from the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Police, Judiciary and Penitentiary Services as well as NGOs. This inclusive consultation reviewed the obligations and implications of the OPCAT and assessed the current national situation in Benin (current visiting mechanisms in place, gaps, needs…) and came up with a range of recommendations which will serve as a 'roadmap' to guide the authorities in establishing an effective NPM.

The APT also met with the Head of the UNDP-Benin, the Head of the Swiss Cooperation Agency as well as the Human Rights Officer of the Danish Embassy to exchange views and share information on OPCAT implementation process for possible cooperation in this area. Outcome: Development of a road map on the establishment of the NPM in Benin. The roadmap foresees the establishment, by law, of a new national institution to serve as a NPM. To ensure the independence of the mechanism, it is recommended, among others, that the legislation on NPM will include :
An appropriate procedure for the appointment of expert members A powerful mandate for the NPM An appropriate procedure for approval of budget and resources necessary for implementation
The seminar nominated a 'Working Group' comprised of 9 people to follow up on the implementation of the seminar recommendations. In particular they will assist the Ministry of Justice to draft the NPM legislation. They are also tasked to advocate for the adoption of the legislation by Parliament and for the appointment of competent NPM members.

The Working Group held its first meeting on 19 July, the day after the seminar, facilitated by the APT, where they discussed a preliminary draft of a NPM establishment law. The Minister of Justice attended this meeting, where he expressed his support and reiterated to the APT delegation his commitment for an effective implementation of the OPCAT in Benin.

It is hoped that Benin will establish its NPM during the last quarter of 2007.

Next steps: APT will continue to provide technical assistance and advice to the Working Group as well as to other Benin actors, including Ministry of Justice and Parliament, during the NPM establishment process.

Further cooperation between the APT and the future NPM to whom the APT could provide training on issues such as monitoring places of detention, in order to insure effective implementation of the OPCAT obligations.

The Benin NPM model and the experience in the NPM establishment process to serve as an example for other African countries.

Contact Person: Jean-Baptiste Niyizurugero, APT Africa Programme Officer APT delegation with UNDP Representative and Ministry of Justice Officials APT Africa Programme Officer and the Benin Minister of Justice at the meeting of the Working Group on the NPM establishment