Transparency International, the global anti-corruption movement, called for reforms in the justice system of Benin to make it more independent and effective. The call was made today during the launch of the country’s National Integrity System (NIS) assessment report in Cotonou.
The assessment, conducted in early 2016, revealed that the national integrity system of Benin was weak overall with the judiciary identified as the weakest of the thirteen public and private sector institutions assessed.
The Benin NIS Assessment project is funded by the European Union (EU) within the framework of the EU-Benin cooperation which has support to good governance as one of its main thrusts. To this end, the European Union Delegation to Benin and Transparency International (TI) signed a contract for the implementation of the NIS project.
“The lack of independence and poor capacity of the justice system in Benin perpetuates impunity for corruption. Thishas led over the years to the erosion of trust levels between citizens and public authorities and institutions,” said Samuel Kaninda, Regional Coordinator for West Africa at Transparency International.
“The report presented today suggests that impunity in Benin has become a bigger challenge than corruption itself. The fight against corruption is vain if perpetrators go unpunished,” added Martin Assogba, Executive Director of ALCRER, the implementing partner of the project in Benin.
The widening gap between the legal framework and actual institutional practice was also identified as a major weakness of Benin’s integrity system. The country’s anti-corruption law passed in 2011 suffers from inconsistency in its enforcement. Moreover, the very limited mandate of the National Anti-Corruption Authority (ANLC), established in 2013, is a key impediment to the body’s effectiveness.
“Benin as a country is not short of anti-corruption laws and institutions but the enforcement of the former and effectiveness of the latter is the problem. Strong political will at the highest level of the country’s leadership is needed to close gap between our laws and their implementation,” said Gustave Assah, Chair of Social Watch Bénin, Transparency International’s national contact in Benin and project implementing partner.
The report found that a lack of a clear vision and a coherent strategy by government is an obstacle to an effective fight against corruption.
Keys recommendations made to the Beninese government to address the above challenges include:
- Undertake reforms in the justice system to make it more independent and effective by making the country’s Judicial Council independent from the executive, by ensuring that a third of the country’s magistrates are trained in financial and economic crimes, and by providing adequate human and financial resources to the General Inspectorate of Finance and Criminal Investigations Services
- Reform the financial and fiscal justice system to make it functional and effective
- Undertake legal and institutional reforms to ensure compliance with fiscal norms and standards and accountability in public procurement
- End impunity for corrupt political leaders by reforming the High Court of Justice. Remore the obstacles related to the prosecution of former ministers who became members of parliament to have immunity to prosecution.
- Prosecute cases that have been before court for the past five years and enforce asset declarations, as per the anti-corruption law of 2011 and ensure all declarations are made public
- Strengthen the mandate and capacity of the National Anti-Corruption Authority, and
- Ensure the coordination of anti-corruption effort at the national level through the adoption of a national strategy and a framework for its implementation.
Note to editors: For more information on the methodology of the National Integrity System report see here
This press release was updated on 4 October to include recognition that it is part of an European Union funded project.
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