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Constitution

CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF BENIN
Adopted at the referendum of 2 December 1990

PREAMBLE
We, the Beninese people,

Reaffirm our fundamental opposition to any political regime founded on arbitrariness, dictatorship,
injustice, corruption, misappropriation of public funds, regionalism, nepotism, confiscation of
power, and personal power;
Express our firm will to defend and safeguard our dign ity in the eyes of the world and to find again
the place and role as pioneer of democracy and of the defence of human rights which were
formerly ours;
Solemnly affirm our determination by this pr esent Constitution to create a state of law and
pluralistic democracy in which the fundamental human rights, public liberties, the dignity of the
human being, and justice shall be guaranteed, protected and promoted as the condition
necessary for the genuine harmonious developme nt of each Beninese in his temporal and
cultural dimension as well as in his spiritual;
Reaffirm our attachment to the principles of democracy and human rights as they have been
defined by the Charter of the United Nations of 1945 and the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights of 1948, by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights adopted in 1981 by the
Organization of African Unity and ratified by Benin on 20 January 1986 and whose provisions
make up an integral part of this present Constitution and of Beninese law and have a value
superior to the internal law;
Affirm our will to co-operate in peace and friendship with all peoples who share our ideals of
liberty, of justice, of human solidarity based on the pr inciples of equality, of reciprocal interest and
of mutual respect for national sovereignty and for territorial integrity;
Proclaim our attachment to the cause of Afri can unity and pledge ourselves to leave no stone
unturned in order to realise local and regional integration;
Solemnly adopt the present Constitution which shall be the Supreme Law of the state and to
which we swear loyalty, fidelity and respect.

TITLE I: THE STATE AND SOVEREIGNTY

Article 2
The Republic of Benin shall be one – indivisible, secular, and democratic. Its principle shall be:
“Government of the people, by the people, and for the people”.

Article 3
National sovereignty shall belong to the people. No portion of the people, no community, no
corporation, no party or political association, no trade union organisation nor any individual shall
be able to abrogate the exercise of it. Sovereignty shall be exercised in accordance with the
present Constitution which is the Supreme Law of the state. Any law, any statutory text and any
administrative act contrary to these provisions shall be null and void. Consequently, any citizen
shall have the right to appeal to the Constitutional Court against the laws, texts, and acts
presumed unconstitutional.

Article 4
The people shall exercise their sovereignty throug h their elected representatives by means of the
referendum.

Article 5
Political parties shall co-operate in the expression of suffrage. They shall be formed and shall
freely exercise their activities under conditions de termined by the Charter of Political Parties.
They must respect the principles of national sovere ignty, of democracy, of territorial integrity and
of the secularity of the state.

Article 6
Suffrage shall be universal, equal and secret. The electors shall be, under the conditions
determined by law, all Beninese nationals of both sexes over the age of eighteen and in full
possession of their civil and political rights.

TITLE II: RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF THE INDIVIDUAL

Article 7
The rights and duties proclaimed and guaranteed by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’
Rights adopted in 1981 by the Organization of African Unity and ratified by Benin on January 20,
1986 shall be an integral part of the present Constitution and of Beninese law.
Article 8
The human person is sacred and inviolable. The stat e has the absolute obligation to respect it
and protect it. It shall guarantee him a full blossomi ng out. To that end, it shall assure to its
citizens equal access to health, education, cu lture, information, vocational training, and
employment.

Article 9
Every human being has a right to the development and full expansion of his person in his
material, temporal and intellectual dimensions, provided that he does not violate the rights of
others nor infringe upon constitutional order and good manners.

Article 10
Every person has a right to culture. The state ha s the duty to safeguard and promote the national
values of civilisations, as much material as spiritual, as well as the cultural traditions.

Article 11
All communities comprising the Beninese nation shall enjoy the freedom to use their spoken and
written languages and to develop their own cultur e while respecting those of others. The state
must promote the development of nati onal languages of intercommunication.

Article 12
The state and public authorities shall guarant ee the education of children and shall create
conditions favourable to this end.

Article 13
The state shall provide for the education of the youth by public schools. Primary education shall
be obligatory. The state shall assure progressively free public education.

Article 14
Religious institutions and communities shall be abl e to co-operate equally in the education of the
youth. Private schools, secular or parochial, ma y be opened with the authorisation and control of
the state. The private schools may benefit from state subsidies under conditions determined by
law.

Article 15
Each individual has the right to life, liberty , security and the integrity of his person.

Article 16
No one shall be arrested or accused except by virtue of a law promulgated prior to the charges
against him. No citizen shall be forced into exile.

Article 17
Any person accused of an unlawful act shall be presumed innocent until his culpability has been
legally established in the course of a public lawsuit during which all guarantees necessary to his
free defence shall have been assured to him. No one shall be condemned for actions or
omissions which, at the moment when they we re committed, did not constitute an infraction
according to the national law. Likewise, he may not have a more severe penalty inflicted than that
which was applicable at the time when the offence was committed.

Article 18
No one shall be submitted to torture, nor to maltreatment, nor to cruel, inhumane or degrading
treatment. No one shall have the right to pr event a detainee or an accused person from being
examined by a doctor of his choice. No one may be detained in a penal institution if he does not
fall under the provisions of a penal law in force. No one may be detained for a duration greater
than forty-eight hours except by a decision of the magistrate before whom he must have been
presented. This delay may be prolonged only in circ umstances exceptionally provided for by law
and may not exceed a period greater than eight days.

Article 19
Any individual or any agent of the state who sha ll be found responsible for an act of torture or of
maltreatment or of cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment in the exercise of, or at the time of the
exercise of his duties, whether of his own initiative or whether under instruction, shall be punished
in accordance with the law. Any individual or any agent of the state shall be absolved of the duty
of obedience when the order received shall constitute a serious and manifest infringement with
respect to human rights and public liberties.

Article 20
The domicile shall be inviolable. House visits or searches may be carried out only according to
the forms and conditions provided by law.

Article 21
The secrecy of correspondence and of comm unications shall be guaranteed by law.

Article 22
Every person has the right to his property. No one shall be deprived of his property except for
state-approved usefulness and in exchange for a just and prerequisite compensation.

Article 23
Every person has the right to freedom of thought, of conscience, of religion, of creed, of opinion
and of expression with respect for the public order established by law and regulations. The
exercise of a creed and the expression of beliefs sh all take place with respect for the secularity of
the state. The institutions and t he religious or philosophical communities shall have the right to
develop without hindrances. They shall not be subjec t to the guardianship of the state. They shall
regulate and administer their affairs in an autonomous manner.

Article 24
Freedom of the press shall be recognised and guaranteed by the state. It shall be protected by
the High Authority of Audio-Visuals and Communications under the conditions fixed by an organic
law.

Article 25
The state shall recognise and guarantee, under conditions fixed by law, the freedom to go and
come, the freedom of association, of asse mbly, of procession and of demonstration.

Article 26
The state shall assure to everyone equality before t he law without distinction of origin, race, sex,
religion, political opinion or social position. Men and women are equal under the law. The state
shall protect the family and particularly the mother and child. It shall take care of handicapped
and aged persons.

Article 27
Every person has the right to a healthy, satisfyi ng and lasting environment and has the duty to
defend it. The state shall watch over the protection of the environment.

Article 28
The storage, handling, and removal of toxic wast es or pollutants originating from factories and
other industrial or cottage industry units installe d in the national territory shall be regulated by law.

Article 29
The transportation, importation, storage, burying an d the discharging on the national territory of
toxic wastes or foreign pollutants and any agreement relating to it shall constitute a crime against
the nation. The applicable sancti ons shall be defined by law.

Article 30
The state shall recognise for all citizens the right to work and shall strive to create conditions
which shall make the enjoyment of this right effective and shall guarantee to the worker just
compensation for his services or for his production.

Article 31
The state shall recognise and guarantee the right to strike. Each worker may defend, under the
conditions provided by law, his rights and interest s whether individually, whether collectively, or
by trade union action. The right to strike sha ll be exercised under conditions defined by law.

Article 32
The defence of the nation and of the integrity of t he territory of the Republic is a sacred duty for
every Beninese citizen. Military service shall be obligatory. The conditions for the accomplishment
of this duty shall be determined by law.

Article 33
All citizens of the Republic of Benin have the duty to work for the common good, to fulfil all of their
civic and professional obligations, an d to pay their fiscal contributions.

Article 34
Each Beninese citizen, civilian or military, has the sacred duty to respect, in all circumstances, the
Constitution and the established constitutional order as well as the laws and regulations of the
Republic.

Article 35
Citizens responsible for a public office or elected to a political office have the duty to fulfil it with
conscience, competence, probity, devotion, and loyalty in the interest of the common good.

Article 36
Each Beninese has the duty to respect and to consider his own kin without any discrimination;
and to keep relations with others that shall permit the safeguarding, the reinforcement and

promotion of respect, dialogue and reciprocal tolerance with a view to peace and to national
cohesion.

Article 37
Public property shall be sacred and inviolable. Each Beninese citizen must respect it scrupulously
and protect it. Any act of sabotage, vandalism, corruption, diversion, dilapidation or illegal
enrichment shall be suppressed unde r conditions provided by law.

Article 38
The state shall protect the rights and legitimate interests of Beninese citizens in a foreign country.

Article 39
Foreigners in the territory of the Republic of Benin shall have the benefit of the same rights and
liberties as the Beninese citizens, and this under the conditions determined by law. They must
conform to the Constitution and to the laws and regulations of the Republic.

Article 40
The state has the duty to assure the diffusion and the teaching of the Constitution, of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’
Rights of 1981 as well as all of the international instruments duly ratified and relative to human
rights. The state must integrate the rights of t he individual into the programs of literacy and of
teaching in the various scholastic and university academic cycles and into all the educational
programs of the Armed Forces, of the Public Security Forces and of comparable categories. The
state must equally assure the diffusion and te aching of these same rights in the national
languages by all the means of mass communication, and particularly by radio and television.
TITLE III: EXECUTIVE POWER

Article 58
The President of the Republic, after consultation with the President of the National Assembly and
the President of the Constitutional Court, shall be able to take the initiative of the referendum on
any question relative to the promotion of and the reinforcement of human rights …

Article 66
In case of a coup d’état, or a putsch, of aggression by mercenaries or of any action by force
whatsoever, any member of a constitutional agency shall have the right and the duty to make an
appeal by any means in order to re-establish the constitutional legitimacy, including recourse to
existing agreements of military or defence co-ope ration. In these circumstances for any Beninese
to disobey and organise himself to put a check to the illegitimate authority shall constitute the
most sacred of rights and the most imperative of duties.

TITLE V: THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT

Article 114
The Constitutional Court shall be the highest jurisdiction of the state in constitutional matters. It
shall be the judge of the constitutionality of t he law and it shall guarantee the fundamental human
rights and the public liberties. It shall be the regulat ory body for the functioning of institutions and
for the activity of public authorities.

Article 117
The Constitutional Court shall rule obligatorily on:

• The constitutionality of laws and regulatory acts deemed to infringe on fundamental human
rights and on public liberties, and in general on t he violation of the rights of the individual;

Article 120
The Constitutional Court must rule within a perio d of fifteen days after it has been informed of a
text of a bill or of a complaint of the violation of human rights and of public liberties. However, at
the demand of the government, if there is an emer gency, this period shall be reduced to eight
days. In this case, the submission of the matter to the Constitutional Court shall suspend the
deadline for the promulgation of the law.

Article 121
The Constitutional Court, at the request of the Pres ident of the Republic or of any member of the
National Assembly, shall give its opinion on the constitutionality of laws in advance of their
promulgation. It shall give its opinion automatic ally on the constitutionality of laws and any
regulatory text deemed to infringe on the fundamental human rights and on the public liberties. It
shall decide more generally on the violations of the rights of the individual and its decision must
be reached within a period of eight days.

Article 122
Any citizen may complain to the Constitutional Court about the constitutionality of laws whether
directly or whether by the proc edure of the exception of unconstitutionality invoked in a matter
which concerns him before a court of law. This must grant a stay until the decision of the
Constitutional Court which must be reached within a period of thirty days.

Article 123
The organic laws in advance of their promulgat ion; the Rules of Procedure of the National
Assembly, of the High Authority of Audio-Visual s and of Communications, and of the Economic
and Social Council before their enf orcement must be submitted to the Constitutional Court which
shall give its decision on their c onformity to the Constitution.

Article 124
A provision declared unconstitutional may not be promulgated or enforced. The decision of the
Constitutional Court shall not be subject to any appeal. They shall be imperative for public
authorities and for all civil, military and jurisdictional authorities.

TITLE VI: JUDICIAL POWER

Article 125
Judicial power shall be independent of the l egislative power and of the executive power.

TITLE IX: TREATIES AND INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS

Article 144
The President of the Republic shall negotiate and ratify treaties and international agreements.

Article 146
If the Constitutional Court, upon a submission by the President of the Republic or by the
President of the National Assembly, shall have de cided that an international obligation allows a
clause contrary to the Constitution, the authorisatio n to ratify it may occur only after the revision of
the Constitution.

Article 147
Treaties or agreements lawfully ratified shall have, upon their publication, an authority superior to
that of laws, without prejudice for each agreement or treaty in its application by the other party.

TITLE XI: REVISION

Article 154
The initiative for the revision of the Constitution shall belong concurrently to the President of the
Republic, after a decision taken in the Council of Ministers, and to the members of the National
Assembly. In order to be taken into consideration, the draft or proposal of revision must be voted
by a three-fourths majority of the members composing the National Assembly.

Article 155
The revision shall be agreed to only after having been approved by referendum, unless the draft
or the proposal involved shall have been approved by a four-fifths majority of the members
composing the Assembly.

Article 156
No procedure for revision may be instituted or co ntinued when it shall undermine the integrity of
the territory. The republican form of government and the secularity of the state may not be made
the object of a revision.

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