BENIN: National Laws

Summary: General overview of Benin's national legal provisions on children's rights, including guidance on how to conduct further research.

National laws on children's rights

Status of the CRC in national law
Article 147 of the Constitution of Benin provides that "properly ratified treaties or agreements shall, upon publication, have greater authority than the laws, provided that each agreement or treaty is applied by the other party". All provisions of the CRC are, therefore, binding in national law and can be invoked before any national authority, whether administrative, legislative or judicial. It is not clear to what extent the Convention has been raised in these settings, but as of 2005, the Convention had not yet been cited in a national court.

Constitution: Articles 7 to 40 of the Constitution contain a number of rights provisions that do not distinguish on the basis of age, but also contain provisions that specifically address the rights of children:

  • Article 12 requires the State and public authorities to guarantee the education of children and to create conditions favourable to that end
  • Article 13 requires the State to provide education in public schools, and makes primary education compulsory
  • Article 14 allows for the involvement of religious institutions and communities in the education of children, and for the creation of private, secular and parochial schools under the control and authorisation of the State
  • Article 26 provides for equality before the law, but requires the State "to protect the family and particularly the mother and child"

Legislation: Benin has a dualist legal system, in which customary law exists alongside French colonial law and post-independence national legislation. Legislation relevant to children is found throughout a number of Acts and governmental orders, including but by no means limited to:

  • Act No. 2002-07 of 24 August 2004 (on the Code of Persons and the Family)
  • Act No. 004-98 of 27 January 1998 (on the adoption of the Labour Code)
  • Act No. 2006/04 of 5 April 2006 (on the conditions for the displacement of minors and the suppression of trafficking in children in Benin)
  • Act No. 2006/31 of 5 April 2006 (on prevention, care and support related to HIV/AIDS)
  • Act No. 2003-04 of 3 March 2003 (on the suppression of female genital mutilation)
  • Act No. 2006-19 of 5 September 2006 (on the suppression of sexual harassment and protection of victims)
  • Act No. 2003-04 of 3 March 2003 (on sexual and reproductive health)
  • Inter-Ministerial Order No. 16 of 1 October 2003 (on sanctions for perpetrators of sexual abuse in public or private, general, technical or vocational secondary schools or educational establishments)
  • Inter-Ministerial Order No. 132 of 7 November 2000 (on the categories of work and workplaces forbidden to women, pregnant women and children)

Legal Research
The National Assembly of Benin (Assemblée Nationale) maintains an official website in French (, and the Constitution is available in French from the website of the government of Benin ( and in English from the University of Minnesota Human Rights Library ( The International Labour Organization's NATLEX database provides links to selected Beninese legislation in French, as does the Droit-Afrique website (, though the latter is largely limited to financial and employment law. In addition, the GlobaLex project at New York University has published a guide to legal research in Benin (, and both the U.S. Law Library of Congress ( and World Legal Information Institute ( have assembled selections of relevant government and legal research links.

Case Law
CRC Jurisprudence

Please contact CRIN if you are aware of any cases in national courts that reference the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Case Law Research
Constitutional Court decisions are published in French on the Court's official website (, and the website of the Supreme Court contains a number of useful case law resources (

Compliance with the CRC
The Committee on the Rights of the Child has welcomed a number of measures taken to strengthen the legal framework on the rights of the child and aspects of national legislation that have been brought into conformity with the CRC, particularly the Persons and Family Code and the Draft Children's Code. However, the Committee has expressed concern that some aspects of national law remain incompatible with the rights and principles laid out in the Convention.

In depth analysis
With regard to violence against children, the Committee on the Rights of the Child has noted a number of failings in national law. Child abuse, neglect, and ill-treatment remain common within the family, and corporal punishment remains legal and socially acceptable. Perhaps the most alarming failing is the continuing practice of infanticide of "sorcerer's children" in some communities, affecting children with disabilities or who present at birth in the breech position. The Committee has recommended that the State address these serious violations of children's rights by implementing legislation that explicitly prohibits such treatment, and by establishing complaint mechanisms to identify abuse. The Committee has also encouraged the State to enforce its laws relating to violence against children and to ensure that all such crimes are properly investigated, prosecuted and punished.

While welcoming new legislation with respect to sexual exploitation, the Committee has expressed its concern that there is insufficient information available as to the scope of the problem and the measures taken in response, and that gaps exist in the relevant law. The most notable deficit in national law in the area is that there is "a lack of clarity on the legal minimum age of sexual consent". The Committee has recommended that the State enact legislation to establish a clear minimum age of sexual consent, and enforce recent legislation aimed at combating sexual abuse and exploitation.

Though steps have been taken to develop a juvenile justice system in Benin, a number of aspects of this system remain incompatible with the rights and principles set out in the Convention. The Committee has expressed particular concern at the inhumane conditions in juvenile quarters in prisons, at reports that children can be held for long periods in police stations and pre-trial detention centres, and that detained children are not always separated from adults. The lack of a minimum age for criminal responsibility is also a matter of utmost concern.

Current legal reform projects
Please contact CRIN if you are aware of any current legal reform projects.


Please note that these reports are hosted by CRIN as a resource for Child Rights campaigners, researchers and other interested parties. Unless otherwise stated, they are not the work of CRIN and their inclusion in our database does not necessarily signify endorsement or agreement with their content by CRIN.