COTONOU, 2 February 2006 – UNICEF today hailed the adoption of a new law to combat child trafficking in the Republic of Benin. The law was unanimously adopted by the National Assembly of Benin on January 30 in Porto Novo.
“This law will strengthen the legal framework surrounding the efforts to combat child trafficking and will facilitate the implementation of activities led in this field by the government and various partners”, said UNICEF Representative in Benin, Philippe Duamelle. “We hope that this law will be promulgated by the government as soon as possible. UNICEF remains ready to support its dissemination and translation into local languages.”
The new law defines and expressly forbids child trafficking. It stipulates a sentence of 10 to 20 years of imprisonment for those who engage in child trafficking, and a life-time prison sentence in case of aggravating circumstances, such as acts of violence and assaults, deprivation of food and care, or rape. Employers of child victims of trafficking risk a fine from 500 000 to 5 million FCFA (760 - 7 600 euros) and a prison sentence of six to 24 months.
In West Africa, an estimated 200,000 children are victims of child trafficking every year. In June 2005, Benin and Nigeria signed an agreement of cooperation to “prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons with emphasis on trafficking in women and children.” This bilateral agreement was followed by the signature in July 2005 of a multilateral agreement between nine West African countries, including Benin.
In addition to this new anti-trafficking law, it is foreseen that Benin will adopt a children’s code and a national policy for child protection in 2006.
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