“Hunted to plant coconut trees” is the title of a report published this Thursday, December 7 by Amnesty International Benin. The human rights organization denounces the expulsions of populations by the State as part of its tourist projects between Cotonou and Ouidah.
In the 78-page report, Amnesty International notes irregularities in the process which led to the expulsions of populations along the coast, between Cotonou and Ouidah. Some of those evicted told Amnesty International that they had only received a sum of money “months after being broken” while others confided “not having received prior compensation”. This is particularly the case of a former local elected official from Ouidah whose testimony was collected: “The compensation was very arbitrary. I had hired an expert to assess my property. The assessment was 64 million CFA francs but I was given 12 million CFA francs”.
In view of the shortcomings noted, the human rights organization describes these expulsions as “forced”. “These expulsions are not accompanied by the legal protection measures that are guaranteed by international law,” said Fabien Offner, researcher at Amnesty International’s regional office for West and Central Africa.
Amnesty also deplores the difficulties that those concerned encounter in filing administrative and judicial appeals.
Plea for the expelled
Amnesty International recognizes that some residents have indeed been compensated and resettled, but the conditions of compensation and resettlement partially respect the obligations and principles of Beninese law and international law. “The rights of residents must not be neglected in the name of socio-economic development”, said Samira Daoud, Regional Director for West and Central Africa at Amnesty International. The organization recommends that the authorities carry out an inventory to adequately compensate the victims, and allow their resettlement and to ensure that the impact of these projects is a positive impact for the populations.
According to the report produced, the Amnesty International delegation sent requests for interviews to discuss the research project with the authorities. In response to his letters Amnesty International received rights of reply and the elements provided were included in the report. Some requests remained unanswered.
The report focuses specifically on the cases of the development projects of the Marina in Djègbadji in Ouidah, the hotel complex in Avlékété, but also on coastal development projects or the development of a commercial administrative center in the district of Fiyégnon 1 and in the Xwlacodji district. These four tourism development and coastal development projects led to the destruction of neighborhoods and villages, and the displacement of residents.
Read also : Fishing Route and Xwlacodji: 3 billion francs distributed to displaced people
Cotonou: on the Fishing Route, illegal dwellings forcibly evicted
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