The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) works to keep Americans safe at home by countering international crime, illegal drugs, and instability abroad. INL helps countries deliver justice and fairness by strengthening their police, courts, and corrections systems. These efforts reduce the amount of crime and illegal drugs reaching U.S. shores.
Challenges: Benin is an exceptional U.S. partner in West Africa with a history of democratic pluralism, development, and political stability. However, due to its strategic location, with a large port and substantial transportation links to Nigeria, Benin is a major transit point for criminal organizations illicitly trafficking narcotics, wildlife, and other contraband. Benin’s cash-based economy makes it difficult to track the sources of financial resources and facilitates corruption, money laundering, and other illicit economic activities. Weaknesses in the justice sector and rule of law remain, particularly the backlog of criminal cases and a lack of effective cooperation between national and regional actors to address transnational organized crime and corruption.
Goals: INL programs build the Government of Benin’s capacity to investigate and fairly adjudicate cases that impact transnational organized crime and bolster accountability and transparency in the criminal justice sector. INL programs also promote regional cooperation with Gulf of Guinea neighbors, and regional information sharing.
- Since 2012, INL has bolstered the capacity of Beninese law enforcement and judicial officers to investigate and prosecute transnational crime, focusing on evidence-based, transparent investigations and prosecutions.
- Through an Interagency Agreement with Department of Justice’s International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP), INL and ICITAP provided strategic guidance and recommendations to senior Beninese officials to reform and improve recruitment, selection, and pre-service training for judicial police officers, and sponsored the publication of a police ethics training manual.
- INL–sponsored workshops with the FBI have improved Beninese law enforcement units’ core competencies in narcotics investigations. The program also instructed officers on professional ethics and developed a block of instruction entitled “Professional Ethics and Integrity in Law Enforcement.” This three-hour module was delivered to over 1,500 police officers.
- INL, in conjunction with Marine Forces Africa (MARFORAF), Diplomatic Security’s Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program, and the University of Maryland, collaborates with Benin’s Ministry of Interior to train rural border police units to support the ministry’s program to reach underserved communities in border areas. This initiative aims to reinforce community cohesion through law enforcement outreach and support to local populations and bring Benin together with neighboring countries to coordinate practices and share information.