8 September 30, 2021
The Honorable Anthony J. Blinken
U.S. Secretary of State
2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary, Blinken:
As the former Ambassador to the United States from Benin and as the current representative of a coalition of human rights organizations which seek only the promotion of human rights and good governance in Benin, I write to you today on a critically important and urgent human rights matter for the world community.
On Friday, September 24, 2021, during the 76th Ordinary Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Mariam Chabi Talata, Vice President of Benin, indicated Benin’s intention to sit on the United Nations Human Rights Council for the 2022-2024 session. In her address, she invited the U.N. Member Countries to support Benin’s candidacy noting that Benin’s candidacy has been endorsed by the African Union.
Vice President Talata noted that Benin had experience in the “protection and promotion of human rights” and that the progress on human rights made by the Benin Government was, “sensitive, palpable and concrete.”
Mr. Secretary, the claims made by Vice President Talata are not only false and without merit, but they are also an affront to the United Nations and its Human Rights Council for which she promotes the country’s inclusion.
The statement of Vice President Talata (offered on behalf of President Patrice Talon) is an affront to the entire Beninese people who suffer daily the abuses of a repressive and dictatorial power. It is an insult to the memory of the hundreds of Beninese who died under the bullets of the police in 2019 and 2021 in Cadjehoun, Bantè, Savè, Tchaorou, Parakou, Kandi and other localities of Benin on the orders of the regime in place in Cotonou. It is the negation of the basic human rights of the hundreds of political and opinion prisoners who languish in Benin’s prisons and the thousands of Beninese exiles and political refugees who live in precarious conditions far from home in the countries of the African sub-region, in Europe and in North America because of their political opinions.
Given that the human rights violations and abuses perpetrated since 2016 by the Government of Patrice Talon in Benin constitute crimes against humanity, all institutions, organizations, and people in love with freedom and respect for human rights should reject Benin’s candidacy for the United Nations Human Rights Council for the period 2021-2024. The Vice President’s request is a poor attempt by the Cotonou regime to conceal its repressive character and whitewash the crimes against humanity that have been perpetrated against the Beninese people.
Annexed to this document is a compilation of the evidence of the numerous abuses of human rights underway in Benin since the April 2016, accession to power of President Patrice Talon. (See attached)
Human rights and good governance have been severely impaired by President Talon.
Freedom House had categorized Benin as “free” and currently categorizing Benin as only “partly free.”
The U.S. State Department’s 2020 Human Rights Report noted, most critically, “important human rights issues in Benin include: –
—Unlawful or arbitrary executions, including extrajudicial executions.
—Harsh and deadly prison conditions.
—Severe restrictions on press freedom and unjustified arrests and prosecutions of journalists.
—Lack of investigation and accountability for violence against women.”
We therefore call on the United States to object to the inclusion of Benin on the United National Human Rights Council 2022-2024 and continue to support those in and outside of Benin who continue to suffer the repressive and unlawful policies and practices of the Talon regime. The history of Benin’s human rights abuses cannot be allowed to diminish future standards to the world community via the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Very sincerely yours,