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Executive Summary

Benin is a constitutional presidential republic. On April 11, voters elected Patrice Talon in a multiparty election to a second five-year term as president. Registration and sponsorship requirements incorporated in the electoral code in 2019 and implemented during municipal elections excluded most opposition political parties from participating in the election. According to the government National Electoral Commission, voter turnout declined from 65 percent in 2016 to 50 percent; however, civil society organizations estimated voter turnout at only 27 percent. Voting did not take place in 16 of 546 electoral districts due to violent protests and demonstrations that prevented delivery of voting materials. International observers, however, assessed the election as generally free, fair, and transparent, but they expressed concern about the lack of inclusivity and competition among candidates. At least five civilians were reported killed and 21 police officers and military service members injured during election-related clashes.

The Beninese Armed Forces under the Ministry of Defense are responsible for external security and support the Republican Police in maintaining internal security. The Republican Police are under the Ministry of Interior and have primary responsibility for enforcing law and maintaining order. Civilian authorities generally maintained effective control over security forces. There were reliable reports that members of the security forces committed some abuses.

Significant human rights issues included credible reports of: unlawful or arbitrary killings, including extrajudicial killings by government forces; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest or detention; political prisoners or detainees; serious problems with the independence of the judiciary; serious restrictions on free expression and media, including censorship and the existence of criminal libel laws; substantial interference with freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association; lack of investigation of and accountability for gender-based violence, including domestic and intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and child, early and forced marriage; and child labor.

Impunity was a problem. Although the government took some steps to identify, investigate, prosecute, and punish officials who committed human rights abuses and acts of corruption, officials sometimes engaged in these practices with impunity.

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U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future