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Environmental Crime Legal Framework in Benin

Articles 27-29 of the Benin Constitution outline provisions for protecting the environment.

Article 27 states: “Every person has the right to a healthy, satisfying and lasting environment and has the duty to defend it. The State shall watch over the protection of the environment.”

Article 28 reads: “The storage, handling, and removal of toxic wastes or pollutants originating from factories and other industrial or cottage industry units installed in the national territory shall be regulated by law.”

Article 29 says: “The transportation, importation, storage, burying and 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.”

Featured Legislation

1950: General order # 5926 was passed, regulating the interior design of bulk hydrocarbon depots for safe storage and distribution of petroleum products in above- ground bulk installations.

1987: The Public Hygiene Code was introduced to improve waste management,conferring power on the State to regulate household waste, plastic waste and biomedical waste in municipalities.

1992: Order #0002 was created to restore and repair areas unfit for habitation.

1993: Law No. 93-009 on the forest regime in the Republic of Benin was tabled. This law lays down the general forest regime. It is formed by 112 articles divided into 5 titles, namely: General (I); State forest estate (II); Forest estate of individuals and cooperatives (III); Research, observation and repression of offenses (IV); Miscellaneous provisions (V). Forests in the domain of the State are classified or protected. The law provides for a management plan, drawn up with the participation of local populations, which defines the objectives assigned to the forest and the means to achieve them. This plan may also exist for the forest estates of individuals and communities under a contract between them and the forest administration. The execution of the plan in the classified forests can be done with the local communities within the framework of a management contract. User rights, defined as those by which natural or legal persons temporarily or permanently enjoy forest products with a view to satisfying an individual or collective need, are divided into three types: those relating to forest soil , those relating to the fruits and products of the natural forest and those of a commercial, scientific or medicinal nature which relate to certain fruits or products of the forest. For each of these types, the law specifies the conditions of practice in the protected area and in the classified area. The commercial exploitation of these areas can only be done by operators approved by the State and having obtained the exploitation permit. As an incentive for reforestation, the exploitation of forest products by individuals or cooperatives is exempt from all exploitation taxes, but if this exploitation is likely to cause the degradation of the forest, a permit must be obtained.

1995: Inter Ministerial order #136 was established to regulate solid waste and the removal, treatment, and disposal activities relating to waste.

1999: Act #98-030 was signed, serving as a framework for environmental protection in Benin.

2001: Decree #2001-094 was approved, improving drinking water quality standards in Benin.

2001: Decree #2001-095 was brought into force, creating roles and responsibilities for Benin’s environmental units.

2001: Decree #2001-110 was created to improve air quality standards in Benin.

2003: Decree #2003-332 was passed to regulate solid waste management.

2017: Decree #2017-332 was signed to oversee the organization of environmental assessment procedures.

​​2012: Benin's National Forest Policy was drafted. Faced with the progression of desertification and the general degradation of the vegetation cover, Benin developed the national forest policy of Benin (2012-2015) based on the principles of the effective application of the participatory approach to the management of forest resources. ; consultation and coordination between the actors involved in the management of natural resources; the taking into account of decentralization which confers competences in forestry matters on the Communes; the establishment of a sustainable and efficient institutional framework for the sustainable management of forests and natural resources; capacity building of actors in the sector; and drafting texts and monitoring their application.

Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity

  • Despite the creation of Benin’s environmental units, acts of pollution are commonplace in neighbourhoods like Akpakpa Agongbomè, located in the third district of Cotonou. In May 2020: police apprehended four individuals caught dumping large quantities of faecal matter in a hole dug inside a house in Akpakpa Agongbomè. The Coastal Protection and Pollution Control Brigade (BPLP) has received many calls of this nature, along with complaints about carbon dioxide emitted from motorcycles and second-hand cars. The Beninese Environment Agency (ABE) recently revealed that more than 83 tonnes of carbon dioxide and 36 tonnes of hydrocarbons are released every day in Cotonou. Exposure to these pollutants lead to respiratory, cardiovascular and kidney diseases.
  • Benin has become an international hub for the trafficking of illegal products such as weapons, stolen cars, cigarettes, fake medicines, wildlife products, and natural resources like crude oil, gold, diamonds, cocoa and cashew nuts. Such crimes threaten West African security because these commodities are smuggled from South America to Europe and Asia, creating source, transit and destination routes for transnational crime. The Beninese Environment Agency (ABE) has concluded that certain trafficking routes have been adopted by criminal syndicates for trafficking purposes, bringing violence, insecurity and economic loss with their activities.

References and Further Reading


Ministry of the Living Environment and Sustainable Development: