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Republic of Benin[1] [print]

Last edited: May 2006

 

Summary and Analysis

 

The Republic of Benin has enacted and implemented legislation highly compatible with the goals of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (ratified Mar. 12, 1992). In Benin's hierarchy of laws, international human-rights treaties and agreements take highest precedence. Any conflict between Article 12 and any law or function of the government must be resolved by complying with the requirements of Article 12. In addition to the Convention, Benin is a party to The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, signed on Feb. 27, 1992 and ratified April 17, 1994.

 

National legislation, and the status of international treaties in the legal hierarchy, have created the mandate of a Convention-friendly child protection system. However, there are not sufficient mechanisms to ensure that cases of abuse are identified. Achieving satisfactory monitoring or reporting would take a significantly burdensome expenditure of resources, in part due to still widely- and deeply-held traditional values, and the state of the nation's infrastructure. For a significant number of children, this failure means there is effectively no child protection, and so not much can be said about Article 12's applicability for that segment of the population.

 

In July 2002, the Republic of Benin adopted their family code, Code des personnes et de la famille. Title VI, on “Parental Authority,” gives substantial weight to the “best interests of the child”. Articles 424, 425 and 439 variously permit state intervention in, and revocation of, parental authority. Cause for revocation includes: endangering the child's “safety or morality” by mistreatment; setting a bad example; and lack of care or lack of direction.

 

Child protection proceedings in the Republic of Benin take the form of judgment by a local tribunal, and the process is generally outlined in Article 419. It may be noted that Article 419 explicitly grants that the tribunal “hears the parents or guardian, and the ‘délégataire,'” (the party who brought the case to the tribunal), but makes no mention of hearing the child. There is also not any specific provision granting a child the right to be heard. However, the Convention takes precedence over all Benin law (excluding other international human rights agreements), and therefore Article 12's mandate requires that tribunals allow the child to express her views. Practice varies, and tends toward allowing the child to directly address the tribunal when any request is made, and eliciting the opinion only in some percentage of cases, based on unclear criteria.

 

Sources of Law (In Order of Authority)

 

Original Text

 

International Law

 

Convention relative aux Droits de l'Enfant, [2] ratified Mar. 12, 1992.

 

Article 12.

1. Les Etats parties garantissent à l'enfant qui est capable de discernement le droit d'exprimer librement son opinion sur toute question l'intéressant, les opinions de l'enfant étant dûment prises en considération eu égard à son âge et à son degré de maturité.

2. A cette fin, on donnera notamment à l'enfant la possibilité d'être entendu dans toute procédure judiciaire ou administrative l'intéressant, soit directement, soit par l'intermédiaire d'un représentant ou d'une organisation approprié, de façon compatible avec les règles de procédure de la législation nationale.

 

Regional Agreements

 

Charte Africaine des Droits et du Bein-etre de l'Enfant,[3] signed Feb. 27, 1992, ratified Apr. 17, 1997.

 

Article 4.  Interet Superieur de L'Enfant

2. Dans toute procédure judiciaire ou administrative affectant un enfant qui est capable de communiquer, on fera en sorte que les vues de l'enfant puissent être entendues soit directement, soit par le truchement d'un représentant impartial qui prendra part à la procédure, et ses vues seront prises en considération par l'autorité compétente, conformément aux dispositions des lois applicables en la matière.

 

Article 7.  Liberte d'Expression

Tout enfant qui est capable de communiquer se verra garantir le droit d'exprimer ses opinions librement dans tous les domaines et de faire connaître ses opinions, sous réserve des restrictions prévues par la loi.

 

Constitution

 

Constitution de la Republic du Benin[4]

 

Article 26.

L'Etat protège la famille et particulièrement la mère et l'enfant.

 

Statutes

 

Loi No e2002-07 Portant Code Des Personnes Et De La Famille En Republique du Benin[5]

 

Article 419.

Lorsqu'un enfant mineur aura été recueilli sans l'intervention de ses parents ou du tuteur et lorsque ceux-ci se seront désintéressés de lui pendant plus d'un an, la délégation de l'autorité parentale pourra être prononcée par un jugement du tribunal du lieu du domicile du mineur dans les conditions fixées ci-dessous.

 

- Le tribunal est saisi par requête du délégataire.

- Au jour fixé par le juge, le tribunal entend les parents ou le tuteur et le délégataire.

- Les parents ou le tuteur entendus ou appelés, le tribunal, compte tenu des circonstances de  l'espèce et selon l'intérêt de l'enfant, statue sur la délégation.

- La décision du tribunal est susceptible d'appel.

 

Article 424.

Les décisions prises à l'égard du mineur dans l'exercice de l'autorité parentale peuvent être déférées par tout parent intéressé au président du tribunal du domicile du mineur.

Après avoir régulièrement convoqué  les parties et toute personne dont l'audition semblerait utile, le président entend les intéressés et tente de les concilier. Si la conciliation ne peut être obtenue, le président tranche le différend et statue par ordonnance. La procédure se déroule dans le cabinet du juge, même pour le prononcé de l'ordonnance.

 

Article 425.

Si la santé, la sécurité, la moralité du mineur non émancipé sont en danger ou si les conditions de son éducation sont gravement compromises ou encore si l'enfant par son inconduite ou sa prodigalité met les personnes investies de l'autorité parentale ou le gardien dans l'impossibilité d'exercer leurs prérogatives de direction et de garde, les père et mère conjointement ou l'un d'eux, le tuteur, le gardien ou le ministère public peuvent saisir le président du tribunal du domicile du mineur, par simple requête écrite ou verbale, pour demander que des mesures d'assistance éducative soient ordonnées.

 

Article 439.

 Peuvent être totalement ou partiellement déchues de l'autorité parentale, en dehors de toute condamnation pénale, les personnes exerçant l'autorité parentale qui mettent en danger la sécurité, la santé ou la moralité de l'enfant, soit :

- par de mauvais traitements,

- par des exemples pernicieux d'ivrognerie habituelle, d'inconduite notoire ou de délinquance,

- par un défaut de soins ou un manque de direction.

La même sanction est applicable au débiteur de l'obligation alimentaire qui s'est abstenu volontairement et sans motifs graves d'exécuter l'obligation qui lui incombe pendant plus de deux mois.

 

Translation

 

International Law

 

Convention on the Rights of the Child,[6] ratified Mar. 12, 1992.

 

Article 12

1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.

2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.

 

Regional Agreements

 

African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child[7]

 

Article 4.  Best Interests of the Child

2. In all judicial or administrative proceedings affecting a child who is capable of communicating his/her own views, an opportunity shall be provided for the views of the child to be heard either directly or through an impartial representative as a party to the proceedings, and those views shall be taken into consideration by the relevant authority in accordance with the provisions of appropriate law.

 

Article 7: Freedom of Expression

Every child who is capable of communicating his or her own views shall be assured the rights to express his opinions freely in all matters and to disseminate his opinions subject to such restrictions as are prescribed by laws.

 

Constitution

 

Benin Constitution[8]

Article 26.  

The state protects the family and especially the mother and the child.

 

Statutes

 

Law No. e2002-07 on the code of persons and the family in the Republic of Benin[9]

 

Article 419

When a minor child is taken in without the intervention of his parents or guardian and when these parties have neglected him for more than a year, the delegation of the parental authority will be able to be declared by a judgment of the court in the domicile of the minor in the conditions below:

 

The matter is referred to the court at the request of the delegated party.

On the day set by the judge, the court hears the parents or guardian and the delegated party.

Once the parents or guardian have been heard or called, the court, taking into account the circumstances of the case and according to the interest of the child, decides upon the delegation.

The decision of the court can be appealed. 

 

Article 424

The decisions taken on behalf of the minor in the exercise of parental authority can be referred by any interested parent to the president of the court of the domicile of the minor.

After having regularly convoked the parties and all persons that are useful to be heard, the president hears the interested parties and attempts to reconcile them. If the reconciliation cannot be obtained, the president settles the dispute and issues a trial order. The procedure takes place in the chambers of the judge, even the issuance of the trial order.

 

Article 425

If the health, safety, or morality of the minor are endangered or if the conditions of his education are gravely compromised or if the child, through his misconduct or spending his prevents the persons vested with parental authority or guardian from exercising their prerogatives of direction and guardianship, the father and mother jointly or one of them, the tutor, the guardian, or the public ministry can apply to the president of the court of the domicile of the minor by simple written or verbal demand to ask that measures of educational assistance be ordered.

 

Article 439

Persons that endanger the safety, health, or morality of the child can have their parental authority partly or entirely removed in the absence of any criminal sanction if they:

are guilty of poor treatment of the child,

provided a pernicious example through habitual drunkenness, notorious misconduct, or delinquency,

failed to provide care or gave insufficient direction.

The same sanction is applicable to someone who owes alimony that voluntarily and without grave reasons abstained from fulfilling his obligations for more than two months.

 

 

Local Contact Information

 

Mrs Honoria Akogbeto

Association Enfants en Situation Difficile (ESD)

Tel: +229 21 32 14 46

Fax: +229 21 32 29 03

Email: scdih@sobiex.bj

Address:   

SCDIH

ISD

01 BP 491

Cottonou

Benin

 



Endnotes

[1] This page is also available as a .pdf Document, and Word Document.

[2] G.A. Res. 44/125, U.N. GAOR, 44th Session, Supp. No. 49, U.N. Doc. A/44/736 (1989), available at  http://www.ohchr.org/french/law/crc.htm.

[3] Charte Africaine des Droits et du Bein-etre de l'Enfant, opened for signature July 11, 1990, OAU Doc. CAB/LEG/24.9/49, available at http://www.africa-union.org/.

[4] Constitution de la Republic du Benin, 10 Dec. 1990, available at http://www.gouv.bj/textes_rapports/textes/index_top.php, and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[5] Loi No e2002-07 Portant Code Des Personnes Et De La Famille En Republique du Benin. Journal officiel de la Republique du Benin, 155eme anne no 23 bis, 1er decembre 2004, available at http://mayolij.africa-web.org/download.php?op=mydown&did=12, and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[6] G.A. Res. 44/125, U.N. GAOR, 44th Session, Supp. No. 49, U.N. Doc. A/44/736 (1989), available at http://www.ohchr.org/english/law/crc.htm.

[7] African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, opened for signature July 11, 1990, OAU Doc. CAB/LEG/24.9/49 available at http://www.africa-union.org/.

[8] Unofficial translation by a translator provided by Yale Law School.

[9] Unofficial translation by a translator provided by Yale Law School.

 

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