This decision was taken in late September by the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons, which regulates asylum applications in France, and was published on Tuesday. According to the President of Ofpra, it is motivated by “the situation of public and political freedoms in this country”. The organization believes that Benin no longer meets the definition of these “safe countries of origin” and hopes for an improvement in the next twelve months.
Since 2015, Benin has been part of a list of sixteen countries considered “safe” along with Ghana, Mauritius, Senegal and Cape Verde. He is today the only one whose situation is questioned.
Ofpra hopes to see an improvement in the situation with civil liberties within a year, while the authorities are accused of reducing the political space since the legislative elections in April 2019 followed by strong protests and a few months of the 2021 presidential election. Several opponents have also been convicted by the courts and have left the country, such as Sébastien Ajavon, exiled in France.
At present, despite the country’s presence on the list of “safe” countries that theoretically reduce their chances, a quarter of Beninese asylum seekers are considered eligible for asylum. of Ofpra. A pretty high rate.
Is this decision “the result of a self-flagellation of our countrymen who constantly claim that freedoms are in decline in Benin?” Asked the spokesman for the Benin government. “Benin remains a safe country,” Alain Orounla told local media on Wednesday, believing that Ofpra “may not have all the elements to appreciate.”
This decision was made public, although the Beninese Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights handed over its annual report to President Patrice Talon and welcomed “efforts”, but also included recommendations to improve the situation in the country. Recommendations that the head of state has promised to “take into account”.