Urgent call for respect for trade union freedoms and social dialogue in Benin

Keywords : Benin Human and trade union rights Protest letters

Mister President,
We are sending you this letter on behalf of the African Regional Organization of the International Trade Union Confederation, ITUC-Africa (www.ituc-africa.org) , which represents 17 million registered members and 107 affiliated national trade union centres in 52 African countries, including the Republic of Benin.

Following our 27 April 2024 letter, we again express serious concerns about violations of trade union freedoms and fundamental rights in Benin. On April 27, 2024, in Cotonou, we witnessed the arrest and molestation of union leaders and representatives who had committed no offence other than calling for a peaceful protest march after fulfilling the required administrative formalities.

It is with profound desolation that we learned of the arrest of seventy-four (74) workers on May 1, a workers’ commemoration day traditionally marked by public demonstrations by workers throughout the world. Despite the multitudes of calls for their release, forty-two (42) remain detained.
We strongly condemn these acts of repression and express our solidarity with the Beninese workers who have been victims of flagrant violations of their fundamental rights, including the right to freedom of expression, association and peaceful demonstration.

Once again, the ITUC-Africa rejects and condemns the criminalization of peaceful processes and actions aimed at defending and protecting the socio-economic rights of workers. We demand the immediate and unconditional release of all those arbitrarily detained for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful demonstration.

Mr. President, we urge your government to engage in sincere and constructive dialogue with unions to resolve to workers’ legitimate concerns. The government must also show good faith toward genuine negotiation by immediately releasing those arrested on May Day.

Mr. President, we would also like to draw your attention to the call for mobilisation of Beninese workers scheduled for May 11, 2024. This mobilization is a legitimate expression of workers’ concerns about living and working conditions. We demand that the government take the necessary measures to ensure the smooth running of the mobilisation and prevent any form of violence, intimidation or repression and prevent any act of violence or disruption. These demands for the protecting of protesters are compatible with democratic tenets which Benin, as a practicing democratic state, must uphold.

Mr. President, we reiterate our call for the unconditional release of the May Day protesting workers. Please accept the assurance of our highest consideration.

Akhator Joël Odigie,
General Secretary, ITUC-Africa

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