Amnesty International’s latest report calls on the authorities, and also the entire Malagasy population, facing to the various attempts done by the Malagasy authorities to harass and intimidate journalists and human rights defenders. Rights of expression flouted, freedom of meeting questioned … The list of rights not respected is long for Madagascar.

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Attack on human rights defenders: Madagascar pinned

“The criminal justice system continued to be used to harass and intimidate human rights defenders and journalists, and restrict their freedom of expression”. Amnesty International‘s report for the period 2017-2018 focuses on the blatant attacks against human rights defenders throughout this period. The report highlights the fact that freedom has been called into question because of various repressions made by the Malagasy State, while activists questioned certain private or private public practices, subject to the possibility of recourse to corruption or trafficking.

These two areas: corruption and the trafficking of natural resources, are indeed the two areas where the most defenders are stepping in. Unfortunately, in 2017, activists who dared to denounce maneuvering in these areas were harassed and even arrested. Some defenders have been silenced under the pressure of legal action.

“Human rights defenders who opposed projects to exploit natural resources, or who made allegations of corruption against government officials were particularly at risk of harassment, arrests on trumped-up charges, or other abuses under the criminal justice system”, Amnesty International’s report denounced.

Clovis Razafimalala’s arrest, environmental activist in Toamasina; Raleva’s arrest, another environmental activist in Mananjary, were mentioned in the report. People who dared openly denounce trafficking and the illegal exploitation of natural resources were increasingly being prosecuted, the report says.

Amnesty international

Clovis Razafimalala, the environmental activist, was arrested in 2017.
cc: CNPE (archive photo)

On the other hand, the repression of peaceful demonstrations is also denounced. The lack of freedom of assembly in Madagascar is flagrant.

“In June, civil society movements Wake Up Madagascar and SEFAFI, which works to improve democratic processes in the country, criticized a one-month ban on public protests which the government said was necessary to protect public order during National Day celebrations on 26 June”.

 

Amnesty International insists on challenging the freedom of expression of activists but also ordinary citizens by the current Malagasy leaders. An increasingly less existing freedom, since the new Code of Communication in force is also less liberal on the dissemination of information by journalists.

Self-repression

For Malagasy citizens, these practices to reduce human rights defenders to silence are not new. However, a self-repression has been found in Malagasy society. Expressing opinions and visions has become very difficult for Malagasy, especially in public.

Discussing political issues has become very difficult for most Malagasy people. Silence has become a tool of combat but also of protection. A measure of self-repression taken by citizens themselves to avoid any judicial trouble.

The UN will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders in December. The 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) will also be celebrated in December. These declarations, which protect and support human rights defenders and activists, while encouraging each of us to fight for fundamental rights. But two decades later, those who commit themselves to defend human rights often face the worst consequences.

Written and translated by:

TIASY


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