“The rule of law and democracy: such is the treasure that the people of Benin must be given back”

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In Porto-Novo, Benin's capital, President Patrice Talon inaugurates the Charles-de-Gaulle stadium on May 23, 2021.

Tribune. If the Republic of Benin will finally be able to recover major works of its cultural heritage from which it was despoiled for decades, it is not so much the “Béhanzin’s treasure” which has captured the attention of civil society, political journalists and human rights defenders. The latter are rather worried about the fate of another severely threatened treasure in Benin: that of the values ​​of human rights, the rule of law and democracy. The Beninese people must be returned them urgently.

Behind the decorum which honors the values ​​of justice, friendship and mutual respect in the relations maintained between Benin and France, and which color the preparations for the ceremonies of these long-awaited restitutions, we glimpse a very more sinister.

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In the country of the ancient kingdom of Abomey, a witch hunt is at work. Political opponents, journalists, human rights defenders and intellectuals are arrested there, without a warrant, without a reason, and without a judge, and cruelly detained. They did not commit any crime or offense, but dared to express a dissenting opinion, to criticize the regime, or to express their interest in participating actively in political life.

Here they are censored, locked up, threatened, by a complex and worried government, which jealous, more than anything, the monopoly of power, the dogma of the leader, and authoritarian abuses. In the hands of their jailers, these intellectuals and dissidents are exposed to arbitrariness, with the sole aim of breaking them down, socially, politically and psychologically.

Another type of ceremony

Constitutionalist Joël Aïvo, professor at the University of Abomey-Calavi and a committed Beninese intellectual, was arrested and continues to be detained for having dared to express dissenting political opinions and for having read aloud the Constitution of Benin, of which he recalled the guarantees. Opinions and criticisms, conveyed by the French media, which were not to the taste of the regime justified his brutal arrest, followed by indefinite detention, without charges, without reasons, validated by a paralyzed, enslaved and incapable judicial institution. to regain the independence that makes it great.

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Also, during the ceremonies for the restitution of Abomey’s treasures, those who cherish human rights and the values ​​of the rule of law will continue their struggle, with the hope that the noise of diplomatic receptions will not mask the suffering of these gagged political dissidents.

We call on every actor, whether president, minister, diplomat, museum curator, journalist, student, involved in or observing these ceremonies, not to forget them and even to support them, and to appeal, with tact, force, insistence , the restitution of the treasury of the rule of law in Benin. At the very least, this requires organizing another type of ceremony, to which the international community can contribute: the release of political opponents in Benin.

French lawyers Ludovic Hennebel, Christophe Bass and belgian Francois Mazon are part, alongside other Beninese and European lawyers, of an international defense team led by law professor Joël Aïvo.

We want to give thanks to the writer of this write-up for this outstanding content

“The rule of law and democracy: such is the treasure that the people of Benin must be given back”