Formerly known as Dahomey until 1975, Benin is one of Africa’s most stable democracies. It is a multi-party state and boast of a strong civil society. Colonized by France towards the end of 1880s, Benin finally gained independence in 1960, a period marked by instability. Even though Benin has witnessed some economic growth over the past few years, it is still ranked among the poorest countries in Africa.
Capital: Porto-Novo; Cotonou (seat of government).
President: Thomas Yayi Boni (since 2005)
Official language: French
Population: 10.32 million (2013)
National Anthem: l’Aube Nouvelle
Media and Freedom of expression landscape in Benin
Freedom of expression and media freedom situation have improved in Benin over the years despite a previous record of repression and violation of media rights. The constitution of Benin guarantees freedom of expression rights which are largely respected in practice. The Beninois media openly criticises government and political authorities as well as opposition party leaders. However, there have been a few incidents of journalists being attacked by political leaders. A number of newspapers and media houses have either been suspended or fined for publications deemed abusive or defamatory by the HAAC. The freedom of expression environment of Benin is described by the Freedom House as free (2012). For more information about Benin’s FoE landscape visit: Freedom House.
Media regulatory bodies in Benin include the constitutionally established regulatory organ- the Haute Autorite de l’Audiovisuel et de la Communication (HAAC) which is largely controlled by the government. There is also Observatoire de la déotologie et de l’éthique dans les médias (ODEM), which is a self-regulatory body and a number of professional associations among them are: union professionnelle des médias du Benin; le Syndicat nationale pour les professionnels des médias du Benin (SYNAPRMEB), Syndicat des travailleurs de médias du Benin (SYNTRA-Media) et Syndicat national des professionnels de la presse privée (SYNAPROP-Benin).