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Amnesty International Annual Report 2012 - Madagascar

Publisher Amnesty International
Publication Date 24 May 2012
Cite as Amnesty International, Amnesty International Annual Report 2012 - Madagascar, 24 May 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4fbe3929c.html [accessed 26 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Head of state: Andry Nirina Rajoelina
Head of government: Jean Omer Beriziky (replaced Camille Albert Vital in October)
Death penalty: abolitionist in practice
Population: 21.3 million
Life expectancy: 66.7 years
Under-5 mortality: 57.7 per 1,000
Adult literacy: 64.5 per cent

Security forces committed serious human rights violations including unlawful killings, torture, and unlawful arrests and detentions. Harassment and intimidation of journalists and lawyers as well as detention without trial of political opponents continued. Prison conditions were harsh and the rights of detainees were regularly violated.

Background

A "road map" to resolve the ongoing political crisis was signed in the capital Antananarivo on 17 September by Malagasy political leaders under the mediation of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). A new Prime Minister was appointed in October and a Government of National Unity, including opposition members, was formed in November. Former President Didier Ratsiraka returned to Madagascar in November after nine years of exile in France but went back to Paris on 12 December. A new Transitional Parliament was proclaimed on 1 December.

Unlawful killings

Criminal suspects were killed by members of the security forces with almost total impunity.

  • Three men were shot dead in Antananarivo on 8 September by police officers from the Rapid Intervention Group (GIR). The men were reportedly unarmed and did not resist the police orders to stop. Despite wide publicity around the incident, no investigation had been opened at the end of the year.

  • On 9 December, prosecutor Michel Rahavana was killed near his office and the prison in Toliara by a group of police officers attempting to release a colleague who had been arrested by the prosecutor in connection with a theft. Following a strike by members of the judiciary, the Minister of Justice announced at the end of the year that an investigation would be conducted.

Death in custody

  • On 17 July, taxi driver Hajaharimananirainy Zenon, known as Bota, died after being arrested and tortured in the 67 ha neighbourhood of Antananarivo by members of the Intervention Police Force (FIP) who dropped his body at the Antananarivo Hospital morgue the following morning. Hajaharimananirainy Zenon's family lodged a formal complaint on 30 August but it was not clear at the end of the year if any official investigation had started.

Detention without trial

Dozens of perceived or real opponents to the High Transitional Authority (Haute Autorité de la Transition, HAT) remained detained without trial, some since 2009.

  • Rakotompanahy Andry Faly, a former intern at the Malagasy Broadcasting System (MBS) radio station, remained in detention despite his serious medical condition and repeated requests to be granted bail that were turned down by the authorities. Andry Faly had been arrested with three other MBS staff in Antananarivo in June 2009 by members of the National Joint Commission of Inquiry (CNME), a security body especially created by the HAT. In July 2011, he was transferred to the clinic of the Antanimora central prison in Antananarivo where he remained at the end of the year. He was among 18 detainees who went on hunger strike in 2010 calling on the authorities to expedite their trial.

Prison conditions

Prison conditions were harsh and prisoners' rights were ignored. Detainees did not have access to adequate health care, food or sanitation. According to a June report by the authorities, 19,870 people were detained in prisons with a maximum capacity of 10,319. They included 785 women and 444 minors. The report also stated that 10,517 of the detainees were under preventive detention.

Death penalty

According to official figures, 58 detainees were on death row, where some had remained for years while waiting for their cases to come before the Supreme Court.

Children's rights

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) reported that children in Madagascar were adversely affected by poor nutrition, homelessness, loss of schooling, lack of basic health care and little or no access to water and sanitation. UNICEF stated that trafficking of children for domestic service and sexual exploitation continued. Such practices were carried out with impunity.

Arbitrary arrests and detentions

Arbitrary arrests and detention were common. In some cases, lawyers assisting or defending perceived or real opponents to the HAT were themselves subject to arrest and detention amounting to harassment and intimidation and denial of the right to legal counsel for their clients.

  • On 28 February, Rolland Stephenson Ranarivony , lawyer for a member of the Reformed Protestant Church of Madagascar (FJKM), was arrested and detained by officials from the Territory Security Directorate (DST) when he arrived to inquire about the situation of his client held in DST cells in Antananarivo. He was released later that day after the president of the Malagasy Bar Association publicly complained about his arrest and detention.

Freedom of expression – media

Privately owned media outlets and those believed to have links with the opposition were targeted by the HAT.

  • According to the Minister of Communication, 80 media outlets were notified of suspension in August after their licences were pronounced illegal. Some media outlet owners and journalists denounced what they called the politically motivated decision. It was not clear whether the suspensions remained in place at the end of the year.

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