Accepted paper:

Judicial careers, appointments of judges and prosecutors in Benin


Annalena Kolloch (Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz)

Paper short abstract:

This paper looks at judicial careers and appointments of judges and prosecutors in Benin. After giving an overview of appointment politics and determinants of promotion, the paper investigates the social structure on the bench and historical differences in career management since the 1960s.

Paper long abstract:

This paper is based on empirical fieldwork on judicial careers and appointments of judges and prosecutors in Benin at all court levels. This is done in the context of the fact that magistrates in Benin don't have any influence on their first appointment. In real practice, the determination of their career development is influenced by several actors. Judges and prosecutors are nominated by decree from the state president, by proposition of the minister of justice and opinion of the Conseil supérieur de la magistrature. According to magistrates, the minister of justice exercises considerable discretion, depending on personal and financial politics. This paper looks at a sample of individual career paths to illustrate the argument. This paper also investigates the social structures framing the bench and the bar and the reasons why young lawyers choose the path of being a magistrate over other legal careers. A historical approach traces the development of the judicial profession and career mobility since the 1960s. It is significant that there seems to be a distinction between the older and the younger judges working in Benin today. In the 1970s and 1980s judges entered the bench directly after finishing law school but young lawyers who finished their studies in the 1990s and 2000s worked for years as teachers, police officers or NGO helpers. This paper interrogates the impact of this difference in entry to legal practice.

panel P045
Judicial elites in Africa: appointments and careers at superior courts