BENIN: Children's Rights in the Universal Periodic Review (Second Cycle)

Summary: A compilation of extracts featuring child-rights issues from the reports submitted to the second Universal Periodic Review. There are extracts from the 'National Report', the 'Compilation of UN Information' and the 'Summary of Stakeholders' Information'. Also included is the list of accepted and rejected recommendations.

 Benin – 14th Session – 2012
Thurday 25th October 2012 - 9.00 a.m. - 12.30 p.m

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National Report
Compilation of UN information
Summary of Stakeholder information
Accepted and Rejected Recommendations

(Read about the first cycle review)

National report

8. As to regulatory texts, the decrees implementing Act No. 2006-04 of 10 April 2006 on conditions for the displacement of minors and the suppression of child trafficking in Benin have been adopted and include the following:

  • Decree No. 2009-694 of 31 December 2009 on special conditions for entry into Benin for foreign children
  • Decree No. 2009-695 of 31 December 2009 on conditions for issuing administrative authorization for the displacement of children within the territory of Benin
  • Decree No. 2009-696 of 31 December 2009 on conditions for issuing administrative authorization for the exit of children from the territory of Benin
  • Decree No. 2011-029 of 31 January 2011 enumerating the jobs considered as hazardous work for children in Benin
  • Decree No. 2011-710 of 21 October 2011 on accession to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty

9. The draft children’s code and the bill on gender parity and the participation of women are currently before the National Assembly.

15. The third edition of the Growth Strategy for Poverty Reduction, covering the period 2011–2014, includes measures to promote the survival, education and protection of children, equal access to quality social services, the reduction of maternal and neonatal mortality, and feeding strategies for infants and young children within an HIV/AIDS context. A national strategy for wastewater treatment in urban areas and a national environmental management programme are also planned.

30. Most of the recommendations made by treaty bodies and the provisions of the following instruments have been incorporated into the draft criminal code and the Code of Criminal Procedure:

  • Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
  • Convention on the Rights of the Child
  • Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
  • Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
  • United Nations Convention against Corruption
  • African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption

31. Benin reports regularly to the treaty bodies on the fulfilment of its obligations. Its third periodic report on the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and its third periodic report on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child have been submitted and are awaiting presentation.

50. The exercise of trade union freedoms is demonstrated by the repeated public sector strikes that have on occasion brought services to a halt, notably in the justice, health, education and finance sectors. The demands are centred on improved living and working conditions.

52. In order to guarantee education for all by 2015 in accordance with the Millennium Development Goals, in addition to increasing the funds allocated to the education sector, the Government is also gradually implementing free education. Support measures have been put in place to develop free public education at the pre-primary and primary levels. These include increasing the funds allocated to the education sector, building classrooms, building capacity among teachers, and acquiring teaching materials. The contribution of technical and financial partners who have mobilized fast-track funds and ordinary budget funds has made it possible to train approximately 10,000 former community teachers. In 2010, gross enrolment rates stood at 110.58 per cent, with net rates at 90.28 per cent (United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Benin report 2010).

53. At the beginning of the 2010/11 school year, the Government decreed that schooling would be free of charge for girls up to their second year of secondary school. Thanks to support from UNICEF, the Government has strengthened its strategy for early childhood development at the local level by increasing the number of childcare facilities from 209 in 2009 to 266 in 2010. An alternative education option for unenrolled children or children who have dropped out of school has been developed to benefit 700,000 boys and girls. In 2009, in an effort to encourage vulnerable girls with a primary education certificate to move on to secondary school, 341 girls from 8 municipalities with low enrolment rates received psychosocial support, school supplies, and tuition or other mandatory fees (UNICEF, annual report 2010, Benin).

55. The State is intensifying its efforts to promote access to health care for all through:

The Expanded Programme of Immunization and Primary Health Care, and promotion of family health and reproductive health. Thanks to this programme, no cases of wild polio virus have been recorded since April 2009, and the elimination of maternal tetanus has been confirmed. Immunization coverage has reached the following rates: DTP3 (diphtheria, tetanus, polio [dose 3]), 97 per cent; measles, 91 per cent. During national immunization days, 3,078,242 children under 5 years of age have been vaccinated against polio (101 per cent); 2,879,631 children 6 months to 5 years of age have received two doses of vitamin A (97 per cent), and 2,388,159 children 12 to 59 months of age have had two parasite treatments (97 per cent) (UNICEF, annual report 2010, Benin).

The comprehensive management of childhood illnesses and monitoring of children’s nutrition, which has made it possible for more than 647,356 children to access health care; and the recovery of more than 2,500 children from severe acute malnutrition.

Health care for the poor and destitute paid for by the Health Fund for the Destitute, which provides 1 billion per year.

Budget allocations for the Millennium Development Goals in the area of health have increased. The budget of 7.773 billion to fight malaria was increased to 9.49 billion in 2011 and will be further increased to 14.475 billion in 2015. The budget for maternal health increased from 5.242 billion in 2007 to 6.867 billion in 2011 (8.298 billion in 2015). The budget for child health increased from 20.759 billion in 2007 to 39.462 billion in 2011 (63.551 billion in 2015).

56. Caesarean sections are performed free of charge as of 1 April 2009. In addition, efforts to fight malaria include free treatment for pregnant women and children up to 5 years of age and the free distribution of insecticidal mosquito nets to households.

58. The authorities of Benin are intensifying their awareness-raising activities to properly familiarize people with the laws adopted in these areas.

59. The Government, through the Ministry of Family Affairs, has translated and publicized the Personal and Family Code and other laws promoting the rights of women and children.

60. Through the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, it has also identified and trained human rights facilitators in some secondary schools and in all municipalities of Alibori and Donga departments. For several years these facilitators have organized awareness-raising activities for human rights clubs in secondary schools and for community contact points in towns. There are plans to extend this activity to other departments and other target groups.

61. Also through the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, the Government has trained members of the judiciary throughout the country in procedures for supporting victims and survivors of gender-based violence. With regard to juvenile justice, the effective implementation of alternatives to prosecution and imprisonment of minors in conflict with the law showed convincing results in 2010, with 275 children, including 7 girls, in detention that year, compared with 362 in 2009. Nine juvenile judges were appointed and received training with the support of UNICEF.

63. In the framework of cooperation with human rights mechanisms, Benin has addressed the concerns of the following mandate holders:

  • The Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers (January 2012)
  • The Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially in women and children (January 2012)
  • The working group on discrimination against women of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (February 2012)
  • The Special Rapporteur on the right to food (2009)

65. Benin has cooperated with the mandate holders of the Council referred to in paragraph 59 above. Steps are being taken to formally invite the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography to visit the country.

67. The National Commission on the Rights of the Child benefits from capacity- building from the State and technical and financial partners.

69. In partnership with national NGOs and with the support of technical and financial partners, the Government has implemented programmes and projects to combat forced marriage, inform and raise awareness of female genital mutilation, and publicize the laws on female genital mutilation, trafficking in children, sexual harassment and victim protection, as well as the Personal and Family Code and other relevant legislation.

71. In order to strengthen the actions of the Ministry of Family Affairs on the ground, the Ministry of Justice, through its Human Rights Directorate, periodically trains community contact points and school human rights clubs on the implementation of national and international legal instruments, as they are instrumental in raising awareness among students and the general population about harmful traditional practices.

72. In cooperation with the relevant NGOs, the Government is intensifying its awareness-raising efforts. With regard to the particular case of so-called “witch children” from the north of Benin, steps are being taken to develop new strategies to eradicate the problem. A national forum on ritual infanticide in Benin was held in Parakou from 28 to 29 March 2012 under the sponsorship of the Ombudsman. Organized by Franciscains Bénin in partnership with UNICEF, the forum revealed that the practice is in decline though pockets of resistance remain. However, a dearth of statistics makes it impossible to measure the impact of the actions taken. In addition, representatives of State bodies, NGOs, local elected officials, and traditional and religious leaders have been included in discussions on new strategies that could be developed to eradicate the killing of “witch children” in the north of Benin, such as mechanisms to raise awareness and promote dialogue and behavioural change, efforts to persuade the main stakeholders to get involved, prevention and punishment through court action, and the active involvement of keepers of tradition and executioners.

73. The decrees implementing the child-trafficking laws have been adopted and are now being applied. Mechanisms to prevent trafficking have been strengthened, and 5,430 children, 80 per cent of whom were girls, received physical protection and psychological support in 2010.

75. The legal framework for the national preventive mechanism has been established. A bill to establish a national observatory for the prevention of torture in Benin has been drafted as recommended by the Committee against Torture and in line with the observations made by the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The process to establish this mechanism is under way.

84. State bodies are pursuing awareness-raising activities in cooperation with education NGOs and with the support of technical partners. The UNICEF programme, “Every girl in school” and the “Girls for girls” programme have helped to achieve better results.

85. At the beginning of the 2010/11 school year, the Government decreed that public secondary education up to the second year of secondary school would be free of charge for girls. Arrangements are being made to expand this measure to cover all grades.

89. Benin also has a national gender promotion policy that aims to achieve equity and equality between men and women by 2025. In order to achieve this objective, four policy orientations have been identified:

  • Establish measures to achieve equality between men and women in access to education, literacy and decision-making bodies
  • Strengthen the institutionalization of gender at all levels and the effective implementation of national and international legal instruments
  • Ensure the empowerment of women and better mainstreaming of the gender perspective in communal development programmes
  • Reduce financial poverty among women and ensure their access to and equitable control of resources

96. Best practices worth noting include familiarization of citizens with legislation and raising awareness about eradicating harmful traditional practices that infringe the rights of women and children.

98. Other areas where the Government has made progress are gender equality and equity, the promotion and empowerment of women, especially in rural areas, access to health care, and the gradual introduction of free education.

104. In the field of education, the 10-year action plan adopted by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Vocational Training envisages an improved quality of education by 2015.

107. These include:

  • Reducing poverty and increasing the empowerment of women
  • Ensuring fair distribution of resources
  • Developing road infrastructure
  • Developing leadership skills among rural women
  • Ensuring gender equality and equity
  • Reintroducing civic education at all levels of education
  • Working to improve enrolment and retention in school among girls
  • Improving conditions of detention and making places of detention more humane
  • Establishing a national mechanism for the prevention of torture
  • Speeding up adoption of the draft criminal code
  • Expanding free education to cover all grades in secondary school
  • Eliminating all gender-based violence and all discrimination on the grounds of sex, age, disability, political opinion, race or religion, as well as ethnocentric and regionalist discrimination
  • Inaugurating all the courts of first instance established under the reform of the judicial system
  • Promoting social dialogue

Compilation of UN information

10. CESCR was also concerned that children born out of wedlock had the same rights and obligations as “legitimate children” only if they were recognized by their father and under certain conditions relating to inheritance rights. It invited Benin to consider amending the Personal and Family Code with a view to guaranteeing full equality between children born in and out of wedlock and to remove the phrase “legitimate children” from legal language.

13. SPT and also CESCR were concerned about the deplorable prison conditions and overcrowding. Regarding overcrowding, both made similar recommendations, such as adopting a concerted strategy to reduce the prison population by focusing on alternatives to custodial measures, for example using non-custodial measures for children, conditional releases, the régime de semi-liberté and releases on licence/parole; imposing community penalties, reparation and restitution; and observing legal deadlines while dealing with cases. Regarding material conditions in prisons, both made similar recommendations on specific measures to ensure that all persons deprived of their liberty received adequate food, drinking water, access to sanitation facilities, daily outdoor exercise, a clean place to stay, health care, education and other activities.

23. CESCR continued to be concerned that, despite the efforts of Benin to combat female genital mutilation (FGM), such as the adoption of Act No. 2003-03 (2003) and Act No. 2003-04 (2003) criminalizing the practice and prohibiting all forms of violence against women and sexual abuse of the human person, FGM persisted in certain regions and the law criminalizing it and the law on sexual and reproductive health had not been enforced. It recommended providing training for judges, prosecutors and police officers on the strict enforcement of both laws; conducting awareness-raising campaigns to combat and eradicate this traditional practice; and strengthening programmes providing assistance to victims and reorientation and financial support to practitioners of excision who halted their activities. It also requested information on the measures taken and on updated, disaggregated data about the number of reported cases of excision, convictions and penalties imposed on the persons responsible.

24. CESCR was concerned at the killings of so-called “witch children”, including infants with disabilities or whose mothers had died following childbirth, motivated by traditional beliefs. It recommended preventing and halting such killings, by including provisions in criminal law to suppress this practice and organizing campaigns to raise awareness of the criminal nature thereof among local authorities, doctors, midwives and the population at large.

25. CESCR was concerned about the prevalence of child labour, including economic exploitation and abuse of children working as domestic servants or “vidomegons”. It requested information on the measures taken to combat child labour and to end the practice of “vidomegon”; and on the assistance given to the victims of these practices and their families. In 2011, the ILO Committee of Experts expressed the hope that the draft decree establishing the list of hazardous types of work which prohibits domestic work for young persons under 18 years of age will be adopted in the near future.

26. CESCR welcomed the adoption of Act No. 2006-04 (2006) on conditions for the displacement of minors and suppression of child trafficking and the drafting of a national plan of action to combat trafficking in children for labour exploitation. However, it was concerned at the large number of persons trafficked from and within Benin for purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labour; and that there were no specific provisions of the criminal law prohibiting adult trafficking. It recommended combating human trafficking, by ensuring adequate access to victim assistance and witness protection programmes and by providing training for police officers, prosecutors and judges; adopting a law against trafficking in adults; allocating sufficient funds to implement the national plan of action to combat child trafficking and for local child protection committees; and increasing cooperation with neighbouring States. In 2011, the ILO Committee of Experts made similar recommendations. It also requested the Government to supply information on the number of convictions and penalties imposed, and on the measures taken or envisaged for strengthening cooperation between the countries which had adopted a “roadmap” at the end of the regional conference of Cotonou in May 2010 on combating the trafficking of children for the purpose of labour exploitation in West and Central Africa.

27. In 2011, noting that the measures adopted to combat trafficking mainly relate to children, the ILO Committee of Experts asked the Government to indicate the steps taken towards broadening the scope of these measures to extend their reach to all victims.

28. In 2008, SPT recommended enshrining in law the prohibition of corporal punishment.

31. SPT noted that no special detention facilities for children existed. It recommended ensuring that children were not held in initial custody except as a last resort and were held separately from adults, including separating adult women from female adolescent detainees; that their rights were fully and clearly explained to them; that a relative was immediately informed of the custody; that no child was subjected to questioning without the presence of a trusted adult; and that no child was subjected to restraint while in a custody cell.

32. CESCR welcomed the adoption of Act No. 2002-07 on the Personal and Family Code (2004) which prohibits polygamy, sets the marriageable age at 18 for men and women, and provides that custom ceases to be legally enforceable in all matters covered by the Code.

33. CESCR was concerned that many Beninese children had not been registered at birth, which hindered their access to health services and education. The United Nations Development Assistance Framework for Benin (UNDAF Benin 2009–2013) stated that many children did not have a birth certificate, which made them vulnerable to trafficking and economic exploitation which were among the more worrying phenomena in the country. CESCR recommended requiring public authorities and education services to register them, issuing birth certificates to unregistered children and abolishing registration fees.

50. CESCR was concerned about the high maternal and infant mortality rate and that woman and girls had limited access to reproductive health services and antenatal assistance in rural areas. It recommended ensuring that pregnant women and girls received proper medical care during pregnancy and during and after childbirth and had access to reproductive health services and antenatal assistance, including in rural areas; that they were made aware of the importance of sexual and reproductive health; and regularly monitoring the health of infants. UNDAF Benin 2009–2013 made similar comments and recommendations.

51. In 2008, CESCR welcomed the fact that preschool and primary education was free of charge in public education institutions in Benin. Nevertheless, it was concerned about the low primary and secondary school attendance in rural areas, particularly with respect to girls. It recommended increasing the primary and secondary school enrolment rate, particularly in rural areas and with respect to girls, by increasing the number of classrooms and teachers, funding the provision of school textbooks and lunches and conducting public campaigns to promote awareness of the importance of education, including for girls. In 2011, the ILO Committee of Experts made similar recommendations, in order to prevent children under 14 years of age from engaging in work. In addition, UNDAF Benin 2009– 2013 stated that in order to help keep children in education, activities would be carried out that would focus above all on improving the number and quality of school canteens, providing life skills and health care in schools, and better access for adults, in particular women, to functional literacy programmes in order to create the conditions to ensure better schooling for children.

Summary of stakeholders' information

7. The authors of Joint Submission 4 state that Benin ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990 but did not publish it in the Official Gazette until 2006, and then only at the insistence of civil society. They recommend that Benin should enable the international legal child rights instruments to enjoy full legitimacy in the country and to be considered as a source of law in their own right, by systematically publishing them in the Official Gazette immediately upon ratification. They also recommend that Benin should speed up the adoption, promulgation, dissemination and implementation of the Children’s Code, which, as a national law, must manifestly combat the commercial sexual exploitation of children and any other forms of child abuse and ensure protection for children against harmful uses of the Internet and their devastating consequences.

8. The authors of Joint Submission 4 recommend that Benin should adopt criminal legislation in conformity with the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography in order to protect children and punish persons who profit from or have recourse to child prostitution.

9. The authors of Joint Submission 4 recommend that the Act of 10 April 2006 setting out conditions for the displacement of minors and the suppression of child trafficking in Benin should be amended to unequivocally establish the forms of medical, psychosocial and legal assistance to which child victims of trafficking are entitled under the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.

10. Joint Submission 3 (JS3) indicates that, despite the existence of a solid legal framework on human rights and children’s rights in Benin, there is no specific legislation prohibiting and punishing violence against children, and compliance with existing legislation is weak.

16. FI refers to recommendation 11, accepted by Benin, on the situation of so-called “witch children”, and asserts that, despite the concerns expressed by State delegations and other stakeholders during the first universal periodic review of Benin, the ritual infanticide of “witch children” in the north of the country persists.

17. FI notes that ritual infanticide consists in killing any child whose birth is considered abnormal. This applies to children born in the breech position, or face down, head first and face up being considered baby’s normal position at birth. Newborns are also killed if they are born prematurely, with tooth buds or visible disabilities, or if the mother dies in childbirth. These babies are killed because tradition has it that, they are a curse on the family and the community.

18. FI adds that it is difficult to estimate the magnitude of the problem because the deaths are not systematically registered, nor are they investigated. In addition, deaths of children by ritual infanticide are often obscured by the generally high mortality rate among under-fives.

19. FI avers that, although at the first universal periodic review the Government of Benin undertook to act appropriately and to accept the recommendations calling for preventive measures to put an end to harmful traditional practices that violate the rights of the child, there has been no sign of significant progress.

20. Regarding prevention, the Government’s consciousness-raising campaigns do not specifically target ritual infanticide or a clearly-identified audience. Nor have they been conducted in partnership with the NGOs or religious organizations that play a key role in community consciousness-raising efforts to combat this scourge.

21. From the legal viewpoint, cases of infanticide are rarely reported and the perpetrators are not always prosecuted due to the covert nature of the crime. However, a few court rulings in infanticide cases have resulted in sentences of forced labour, and one in a sentence of life imprisonment. The Ministry of Justice, in collaboration with the Ministry of Family and National Solidarity, has also made some progress in child protection capacity-building among judicial personnel.

22. FI recommends that, the complex issue of ritual infanticide of “witch children” should be addressed through a fully integrated national and international three-pronged response aimed at: preventing ritual infanticide, including by continuously calling the attention of local authorities, health workers, communities and families, traditional leaders, religious leaders and the general population in the regions concerned to the harmful effects of certain traditional beliefs on children’s enjoyment of their rights, including the right to life; prosecuting acts by, for instance, ensuring that the offence is explicitly defined and prohibited by law and that appropriate criminal sanctions are imposed on perpetrators; and protecting children, by, inter alia, ensuring that those at risk of ritual infanticide receive proper social and legal protection. Such a response should include coordination among the various stakeholders, namely the Government, civil society, communities, families and schools, with assistance from the international community.

23. The authors of Joint Submission 2 make similar recommendations. With a view to encouraging the reintegration of “witch children”, they also ask the Government of Benin to provide additional resources for consciousness-raising campaigns and to support the work already being done by social workers and the NGOs that run reception and training centres for these children to enable them to re-establish contact with their biological families or find adoptive parents.

24. The authors of Joint Submission 2 report that the economic exploitation of children is rife in Benin, in the form of child trafficking, and child labour sometimes involving heavy work. The child victims belong to poor families who, out of necessity, send their children — aged 4–17 — out to earn their living. The girls are mainly involved in vidomegon domestic service, manual trades and commerce while the boys work in quarries, on plantations and in manual trades.

25. The authors of Joint Submission 2 recommend that Benin should take steps to ensure implementation of national and international standards governing the fight against economic exploitation of children. On this issue, JS3 recommended that Benin should, inter alia, strengthen its efforts to ensure access to schools to all children; in particular, waive school fees to include secondary education, so as to strengthen the strategies for maintaining children in schools, as a measure to prevent child economic exploitation and child labour; strengthen its efforts to improve the provision of social and protection services throughout the country, including education, health services, drinking water, and social aid to stop children from remote areas moving to urban centres for the lack of such services, and therefore prevent them from children in street situations.

26. The authors of Joint Submission 2 report that the sexual exploitation of children is relatively covert and takes many forms in Benin. Sexual exploitation on the streets and especially through the Internet is becoming clearly visible. However, neither the national laws nor the anti-cybercrime bodies are yet sufficiently developed and the scope of the problem far outstrips the authorities’ capacity to overcome it. The authors of Joint Submission 2 recommend that Benin should take measures to raise awareness of the seriousness of child sexual abuse and assault and should ensure that perpetrators of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation are brought to justice.

27. JS3 reports that child trafficking persists in Benin, which is considered a supplier, country of transit, and country of destination for victims of child trafficking. It recommends Benin inter alia to ensure awareness-raising and information among the population and children at risk, of the existing legislation against child trafficking; implement existing legislation in this regard, and ensure that those responsible for child trafficking are promptly brought to justice; strengthen its efforts to continue promoting girls’ access to quality primary and secondary education; and ensure economic empowerment of families, with a focus on women.

28. Global Initiative to End all Corporal Punishment of Children (GIEACPC) underlines that a 2009 study involving interviews with girls and mothers and a survey of women and men found that corporal punishment at home and in schools was very common. When asked about the reasons for violence experienced in particular by girls, many interviewees said that it was for “education”. JS3 expresses similar concerns, and recommends that Benin should strengthen its efforts to raise awareness among children, families, communities, as well as teachers and all professionals working with children of the harm caused by corporal punishment, and promote alternative, non-violent forms of discipline; openly prohibit by law all forms of violence against children as well as corporal punishment in families, in schools, and in other institutions, and ensure that perpetrators of violence against children are brought to justice; develop an educational programme to fight violence against children and corporal punishment; and ensure rehabilitation and social reintegration of all child victims of violence.

29. L’Organisation pour la Promotion et la Protection des Droits de l’Enfant, des Jeunes et de la Femme (Organisation for the Promotion and Protection of Children, Youth and Women Rights) (AUTRE VIE) and the authors of Joint Submissions 2 and 3 make similar recommendations.

32. JS3 indicates that in spite of all activities carried out by the Government with some partners on birth registration, a great number of children are still not registered at birth and do not have their birth certificates. JS3 recommends to Benin, inter alia, that legislation that ensures the issuing of a free of charge birth certificate should be enforced and effectively implemented throughout the country, and that parents should be properly informed; that it should raise awareness of the importance of birth registration among mothers, families and communities, as well as among social workers, health-care and professionals responsible for providing birth registration and birth certificates; bring the centres of civil status closer to the places of residence of the populations; and reinforce the capacities of civil registration services by providing sufficient human, technical and financial resources to fulfil their activities.

39. The authors of Joint Submission 2 have found that in recent years alcohol, drug and tobacco use has increased, especially among young people 15 to 19 years of age. According to Ministry of Health statistics, the prevalence of alcohol abuse is 59.3 per cent, consumption being higher among the least educated sectors of the population. The authors of Joint Submission 2 recommend that Benin should strengthen its measures to address the problem of child and youth alcoholism and drug use and conduct awareness-raising campaigns on the social and health impact of addiction to these substances; and provide the necessary human and financial resources for the smooth functioning of treatment centres for drug addiction and drug- and alcohol-related psychiatric disorders.

40. The authors of Joint Submission 2 note the progress the Government of Benin has achieved over the past 10 years with regard to increasing school enrolment rates. However, several problems persist in the education system, such as school dropout, repeated years, and a low pass rate, particularly for the primary education certificate examination and entry into year six.

41. The authors of Joint Submission 2 also refer to recommendations 24 and 25 under which the Government undertook to focus more on girls’ enrolment in its education programmes, but have found there to be still a wide disparity between boys and girls, even more pronounced in rural areas and among the poorest sectors of the population. In addition, girls still encounter obstacles and violence in school, including gender-based violence, obstacles that often lead to their low retention rate.

42. The authors of Joint Submission 2 also point to the quantitative and qualitative shortcomings of the education on offer, with regard to insufficient and poor infrastructure, textbooks, teaching materials and supervision; frequently overcrowded classrooms; and teachers’ inadequate training and work overload. These problems have led to a proliferation of private schools at all levels (primary, secondary and university), accessible mainly to children from more affluent families. What is more, the Government has no control over these private schools, which independently manage their school curricula, materials, teacher training, etc.

43. The authors of Joint Submission 2 recommend that Benin should take the necessary measures to provide free primary education and to prevent children from dropping out of primary school, take measures to increase enrolment in secondary and technical schools, pay special attention to the disparities between men and women and the socioeconomic and regional disparities in access to education, develop a plan to rebuild and standardize the education system throughout the country, and improve the quality of education by providing suitable and recurrent teacher training.

44. The authors of Joint Submission 2 report that children with disabilities are excluded because of those disabilities, which are sometimes regarded as a curse. They refer to “toxossou”, or deformed children seen as river spirits. Even today, many of these children are still thrown into a body of water or hidden in the backyards of homes because they are viewed as a disgrace to the family, a phenomenon particularly pronounced in rural areas. The authors of Joint Submission 2 recommend that Benin should intensify its consciousness-raising campaigns on the situation of these children throughout the country, especially in rural areas; train professionals in the skills they need for teaching children with disabilities, in order to ensure their social advancement; and support the work of civil society, particularly NGOs which work on the rehabilitation and reintegration of children with disabilities and which often lack the required facilities and resources.

Accepted and Rejected Recommendations - to follow




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