Republic of Benin
Head of state: Mathieu Kérékou
Population: 5.6 million
Official language: French
Death penalty: retentionist
1999 treaty ratifications/signatures: Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
Ten people were sentenced to death, but no one was executed. One person died as a result of excessive use of force by the security forces, and another was injured. Twenty-one asylum-seekers were held for several days in January; they were released before an official explanation was provided for their detention. The trend towards greater respect for human rights continued.
A legislative election held in March, which appeared to be fair and transparent, was won by the opposition, but President Kérékou's new government, formed in June, did not include opposition politicians.
Ten people were sentenced to death by a court in the city of Cotonou after they were convicted of bank robbery, but there were no executions for the 13th year in succession.
Excessive use of force
One person died as a result of excessive use of force by the security forces, and another was injured. Robert Hodé was shot dead by the police in March after trying to escape arrest, and Sacca Fikara, a member of parliament, was beaten by five gendarmes during a visit to a police station in May. President Kérékou established a commission of enquiry, but it had not reported by the end of the year.
Twenty-one asylum-seekers from the Republic of the Congo were arrested in January and held without charge or trial. They were released several days later, after protests from AI and several other human rights organizations.
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