Madagascar: Reported cases of human rights violations, surveillance, harassment and detention of political opponents, journalists and members of civil society organizations by the authorities, including the National Police Intelligence Division (2016-January 2019) [MDG106229.FE]

Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa

1. Overview

A report on Madagascar, published in 2017 by the UN Human Rights Committee, reports, without naming those responsible, that [UN English version] “journalists, political opponents and human rights defenders are subjected to intimidation, harassment and illtreatment as a direct consequence of their activities” (UN 22 Aug. 2017, para. 49). According to an article published in July 2017 by Amnesty International, [Amnesty International English version] “[j]ournalists and human rights defenders continue to be subjected to intimidation and harassment by the [Malagasy] authorities … in an attempt to silence them and obstruct their investigative or human rights work” (Amnesty International 10 July 2017). Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2017, published by the US Department of State, indicates that security forces in Madagascar [US English version] “arbitrarily arrested journalists, political opponents, demonstrators, and other civilians” (US 20 Apr. 2018, 7). The same source notes that security forces also [US English version] “regularly impeded opposition gatherings throughout the country and used excessive force to disperse demonstrators,” including using tear gas several times in 2017 to disperse demonstrations by supporters of political opponents and other groups (US 20 Apr. 2018, 14-15). Similarly, in its 2018 report on Madagascar, Freedom House notes that political demonstrators are “still occasionally subject to violence from security forces” (Freedom House 16 Jan. 2018).

US Country Reports 2017notes that the Malagasy government [US English version] “arrested journalists and activists who had publicly denounced the misbehaviour of public authorities,” and “often used unrelated charges to prosecute them” (US 20 Apr. 2018, 11). According to Freedom House, opposition and independent political figures “have experienced harassment in the form of frivolous legal cases” by the Malagasy government (Freedom House 16 Jan. 2018). Similarly, in its 201718 report on Madagascar, Amnesty International notes that the [Amnesty International English version] “criminal justice system continued to be used to harass and intimidate human rights defenders and journalists, and restrict their freedom of expression, particularly those working on environmental and corruption issues” (Amnesty International 22 Feb. 2018). The same source explains the following:

[Amnesty International English version]

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 trumpedup charges, or other abuses under the criminal justice system. (Amnesty International 22 Feb. 2018)

US Country Reports 2016notes that the government “arrested opposition leaders who had called for protests around the country in response to foreign mining operations and land expropriation” (US 3 Mar. 2017, 10).

2. Political Opponents

Information on reported cases of human rights violations, surveillance, harassment and detention of political opponents involving the Madagascar National Police Intelligence Division was scarce among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

Sources indicate that Augustin Andriamananoro [one of the leaders of Mapar, the party of the former transitional president Andry Rajoelina (RFI 11 Dec. 2016)] was arrested in December 2016, during the funeral (US 3 Mar. 2017, 9; RFI 11 Dec. 2016) of a family member (RFI 11 Dec. 2016). Sources report that he was charged with taking part in an unauthorized demonstration in September 2016 in Soamahamanina against Chinese mining operations (US 3 Mar. 2017, 9; RFI 28 Dec. 2016). Radio France internationale (RFI) reports that the authorities attempted to arrest him during the demonstrations but, according to law enforcement officers, he fled (RFI, 11 Dec. 2016). The same source notes that a general from the police force in the capital stated that he had been informed by “‘an intelligence officer’” of Augustin Andriamananoro’s presence in Madagascar, and then proceeded with his arrest after the burial (RFI 11 Dec. 2016). RFI reports that, according to Mapar, the arrest of Augustin Andriamananoro is [translation] “illegal and politically motivated” (RFI 11 Dec. 2016). According to US Country Reports 2016, Augustin Andriamananoro had called for the resignation of President Rajaonarimampianina in July 2016 (US 3 Mar. 2017, 9). The same source explains that, on 4 November 2016, “the five alleged leaders of the demonstrations were given oneyear suspended [prison] sentences, and [that] the case was considered closed until the new arrest [of Augustin Andriamananoro] in December” (US 3 Mar. 2017, 9). According to Newsmada, a Madagascar news website, since September 2016,Augustin Andriamananoro had been [translation] “the subject of several [acts] of intimidation, including searches of his home [and] a failed arrest on the set of Viva, the television station” (Newsmada 12 Dec. 2016). RFI reports that Augustin Andriamananoro was given a threemonth suspended prison sentence for participating in an unauthorized demonstration but was acquitted on three other charges, namely [translation] “breach of state security, payment of participants in [an] unauthorized demonstration and burning of brush and tires, and obstruction of traffic” (RFI 28 Dec. 2016).

According to sources, in April 2018, in Antananarivo, Malagasy police opened fire on demonstrators protesting against the adoption of new electoral laws, leading to the death of two people (Amnesty International 24 Apr. 2018; African Arguments 24 May 2018) and injuries to 15 (Amnesty International 24 Apr. 2018) or “several” others (African Arguments 24 May 2018).

Sources report that Malagasy security forces used tear gas in January 2019 to disperse a [[translation] “banned” (VOA Afrique 2 Jan. 2019)] demonstration of opposition demonstrators who supported the unsuccessful candidate in the December 2018 presidential election, Marc Ravalomanana, and who were protesting electoral fraud (AFP 2 Jan. 2019; VOA Afrique 2 Jan. 2019). Further information on this demonstration could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

3. Journalists

Information about reported cases of human rights violations, surveillance, harassment and detention of journalists involving the Madagascar National Police Intelligence Division could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

Sources indicate that journalists in Madagascar practise selfcensorship (US 20 Apr. 2018, 13; RFI 12 Sept. 2016). Similarly, according to Réveil FM International, a [translation] “community and associational radio station in Kinshasa,” Malagasy authorities “push journalists to practise selfcensorship” (Réveil FM International 23 Nov. 2016). US Country Reports 2017states that Madagascar's Communication Code [Law No. 2016-029 Establishing the Code of Media Communication (Loi no 2016-029 portant code de la communication médiatisée ) (Madagascar 2016)] [US English version] “restricts individuals’ ability to criticize the government publicly” (US 20 Apr. 2018, 10). According to RFI, Malagasy journalists perceive the Communication Code as being [translation] “very liberticidal with sanctions that are considered excessive” (RFI 12 Aug. 2016). The 2017 report of the UN Human Rights Committee explains that [UN English version] “the Communication Code of 2016 provides for disproportionate fines for defamation, insult and affront to public decency, potentially leading to selfcensorship on the part of journalists” (UN 22 Aug. 2017, para. 49).

According to sources, in early 2016, journalist Fernand Cello [also the founder of Radio Jupiter, the [translation] “only independent” radio station in the region of Ihorombe that “regularly [denounces] collusion between private and public interests” (RSF 28 Sept. 2017)] was badly beaten (US 3 Mar. 2017, 11; RSF 28 Sept. 2017) by “four individuals” (US 3 Mar. 2017, 11). According to US Country Reports 2016, he had been investigating an alleged organ trafficking ring in the southcentral region (US 3 Mar. 2017, 11). Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontiers , RSF) reports that, in December 2016, a [RSF English version] “dozen soldiers” confiscated Radio Jupiter’s transmitter “on the pretext that it was ‘illegal’, although the station had existed for 15 years,” after the broadcast of a report about the “environmental damage from the operations of the mining company Gondwana” (RSF 28 Sept. 2017). Sources indicate that Fernand Cello was arrested in May 2017, including for forgery and defamation, after making statements about the [local (US 20 Apr. 2018, 12)] authorities and their involvement in illegal mining activities (Freedom House 16 Jan. 2018; US 20 Apr. 2018, 12). RSF reports that his arrest occurred after he had denounced corruption and abuse of authority in the south of the country (RSF 12 Oct. 2018). According to sources, he was given a twoyear suspended jail sentence [and fined US$220 (US 20 Apr. 2018, 13)] (RSF 12 Oct. 2018; US 20 Apr. 2018, 13).

Information in the following paragraph is from US Country Reports 2016and 2017:

Corroborating information on the abovementioned incidents could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

Midi Madagasikara, a newspaper in Madagascar, indicates that the general management of the newspaper Free Newsreports that the Malagasy police [translation] “beat up one of its employees” in October 2016; the police reportedly told the employee that they were going to [translation] “'give him a hard time "because he is part of the Free team, a denigrator of the regime in place"'” (Midi Madagasikara24 Oct. 2016). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response. US Country Reports 2017indicates the following:

[US English version]

On June 22 [2017], Antananarivo police questioned the publication manager and chief editor of the private newspaper Freenewsafter Senate President Honore Rakotomanana accused him of defamation. A few days before the police hearing, the newspaper issued an article accusing the president of the Senate of building a very expensive villa in a suburb of the capital city. Lalatiana Rakotondrazafy, owner of the newspaper and losing mayoral candidate in Antananarivo, claimed procedural irregularities in the investigation, asserting that a press offense, not qualified as a crime in the communications code, could not be handled by the criminal police. [Ms.] Rakotondrazafy was well known for her criticism of the ruling party. (US 20 Apr. 2018, 13, italics in original)

Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

4. Civil Society

Information about reported cases of human rights violations, surveillance, harassment and detention of members of civil society organizations involving the Madagascar National Police Intelligence Division could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

4.1 Environmental Activists

According to an article published by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC, whose mission is to implement solutions to the world’s environmental problems (EIA n.d.), there is a [translation] “long list of activists unjustly imprisoned in Madagascar, simply because they defy the illegal activities of rosewood barons and the corrupt officials who protect them” (EIA 7 June 2018). RSF indicates that [RSF English version] “[c]overing influencetrafficking in connection with natural resources and the environment is still very dangerous” in Madagascar (RSF [2018]).

According to US Country Reports 2016, Ndranto Razakamanarina, the chairman of the Alliance Voahary Gasy, an environmental organization in Madagascar (Front Line Defenders n.d.), was brought in by authorities to be questioned about a defamation investigation related to a press conference he held for his organization in January 2016, in which “he suggested government officials were involved in rosewood trafficking” (US 3 Mar. 2017, 12). Further and corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

Sources indicate that Clovis Razafimalala was arrested in September 2016 (US 3 Mar. 2017, 10; Le Monde 25 July 2017) in Maroantsetra, in the country’s northeast for [translation] “'incitement to rebellion'” and 'destruction of administrative buildings'” (Le Monde 25 July 2017). According to sources, he was involved in protesting the trafficking of rosewood and other timber (Amnesty International 3 Nov. 2018) or the trafficking of rosewood (US 3 Mar. 2017, 10; Le Monde 25 July 2017). According to the EIA, he is the coordinator of the Lampogno coalition, [translation] “a wellknown Malagasy environmental network” (EIA 7 June 2018). According to sources, he was arrested because of his criticism of the trafficking of natural resources (US 3 Mar. 2017, 10; RSCDA-IO 7 Sept. 2017). Le Monde reports statements made by Clovis Razafimalala that, since 2009, he has received [translation] “many warnings” to dissuade him from continuing his struggle to defend the environment; he has allegedly received death threats, and alleged attempts have been made to burn down his house (Le Monde 25 July 2017). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response. Sources indicate that, after 10 months of pretrial detention, he was released and then sentenced to a fiveyear suspended prison sentence (Amnesty International 22 Feb. 2018; Le Monde 25 July 2017).

According to sources, Raleva, a Malagasy environmental activist, was arrested in Mananjary in September 2017 for usurping the headofdistrict title (Mongabay 20 Oct. 2017; Amnesty International 22 Feb. 2018). Sources report that this arrest occurred after he had [Amnesty International English version] “questioned the legality of a Chinese mining company in the … region” (Amnesty International 22 Feb. 2018) or after he had asked to see the company’s operating permits (Mongabay 20 Oct. 2017). According to Amnesty International, on 26 October 2017, the Mananjary court found him guilty of using the false title of [Amnesty International English version] “‘Head of District’, and gave him a twoyear suspended sentence” (Amnesty International 22 Feb. 2018).

According to the EIA, Christopher Magnenjiky, communications officer for the Lampogno coalition, was arrested on 15 May 2018 and [translation] “charged with rebellion, civil disobedience and ‘contempt of a public person’” (EIA 7 June 2018). In a November 2018 article, Amnesty International reports that [Amnesty International English version] “environmental activist” Christopher Manenjika was handed an “absurd fine” of US$8 in June [2018] “on fabricated charges—for collecting information on cases of corruption, illegal trafficking of rosewood and mining exploitation” (Amnesty International 3 Nov. 2018). Further information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

African Arguments. 24 May 2018. Émilie Filou. “Understanding Madagascar’s Latest Political Crisis .” [Accessed 16 Jan. 2019]

Agence France-Presse (AFP). 2 January 2019. “Madagascar Police Fire Tear Gas To Break Up Opposition Protest .” [Accessed 17 Jan. 2019]

Amnesty International. 3 November 2018. “Madagascar. Il faut que le prochain gouvernement mette fin aux violations des droits humains .” [Accessed 14 Jan. 2019]

Amnesty International. 24 April 2018. “Madagascar. Il faut enquêter sur l’homicide de deux manifestants .” (AFR 35/8267/2018) [Accessed 14 Jan. 2019]

Amnesty International. 22 February 2018. “Madagascar.” Amnesty International - Rapport 2017/18 : la situation des droits humains dans le monde . [Accessed 14 Jan. 2019]

Amnesty International. 10 July 2017. “Madagascar. Il faut stopper l’engrenage des violations des droits humains .” [Accessed 17 Jan. 2019]

Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA). 7 June 2018. “Pas un de plus : une autre voix pour la forêt réduite au silence à Madagascar .” [Accessed 16 Jan. 2019]

Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA). N.d. “About.” [Accessed 16 Jan. 2019]

Freedom House. 16 January 2018. “Madagascar.” Freedom in the World 2018 . [Accessed 15 Jan. 2019]

Front Line Defenders. N.d. “Ndranto Razakamanarina .” [Accessed 17 Jan. 2019]

Madagascar. 2016. “Loi no 2016-029 portant code de la communication médiatisée .” [Accessed 22 Jan. 2019]

Midi Madagasikara . 24 October 2016. “Antanimena : un journaliste de Free News tabassé par des policiers .” [Accessed 17 Jan. 2019]

Le Monde . 25 July 2017. Laurence Caramel. “Clovis Razafimalala : ‘À Madagascar, tous les défenseurs de l’environnement sont menacés .’” [Accessed 16 Jan. 2019]

Mongabay. 20 October 2017. Edward Carver. “Another Madagascar Environmental Activist Imprisoned .” [Accessed 16 Jan. 2019]

Newsmada. 12 December 2016. Jao Patricius. “Intimidations politiques? : arrestation arbitraire d'Augustin Andriamananoro .” [Accessed 17 Jan. 2019]

Radio France internationale (RFI). 28 December 2016. “Madagascar : un ancien ministre condamné à trois mois de prison avec sursis .” [Accessed 17 Jan. 2019]

Radio France internationale (RFI). 11 December 2016. “Madagascar : arrestation d'un ancien ministre, membre du Mapar .” [Accessed 17 Jan. 2019]

Radio France internationale (RFI). 12 September 2016. “Madagascar : Le baromètre des médias dévoile une situation en déclin .” [Accessed 16 Jan. 2019]

Radio France internationale (RFI). 12 August 2016. “Madagascar : le nouveau Code de la communication jugé conforme à la Constitution .” [Accessed 22 Jan. 2019]

Reporters Without Borders (RSF). 12 October 2018. “Madagascar : ‘halte à la censure’, prévient RSF .” [Accessed 15 Jan. 2019]

Reporters Without Borders (RSF). [2018]. “Madagascar : un dangereux code de la communication .” [Accessed 23 Jan. 2019]

Reporters Without Borders (RSF). 28 September 2017. “Fernando Cello condamné avec sursis, son avocat fait appel .” [Accessed 15 Jan. 2019]

Research and Support Center for Development Alternatives – Indian Ocean (RSCDAIO). 7 September 2017. Zo Randriamaro. “Halte à la criminalisation des défenseurs des droits humains et du patrimoine naturel à Madagascar .” [Accessed 16 Jan. 2019]

Réveil FM International . 23 November 2016. Freddy Mulongo. “Presse et médias : Madagascar la liberté n’est que de façade! ” [Accessed 16 Jan. 2019]

United Nations (UN). 22 August 2017. Human Rights Committee. Observations finales concernant le quatrième rapport périodique de Madagascar . [Accessed 15 Jan. 2019]

United States (US). 20 April 2018. Department of State. “Rapport sur la situation des droits de l’homme à Madagascar en 2017 .” Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2017. [Accessed 14 Jan. 2019]

United States (US). 3 March 2017. Department of State. “Madagascar.” Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016 . [Accessed 15 Jan. 2019]

Voice of America (VOA) Afrique . 2 January 2019. John Lyndon. “Manifestations à Madagascar .” [Accessed 17 Jan. 2019]

Additional Sources Consulted

Internet sites, including:Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project; Courrier international ; EU – European Asylum Support Office; Factiva; Fédération internationale des ligues des droits de l’homme ; France – Office français de protection des réfugiés et apatrides; France Télévisions — Franceinfo ; GlobalSecurity.org; Human Rights Watch; IRIN; Institut de relations internationales et stratégiques; Le Monde diplomatique ; UN – Refworld; Union internationale de la presse francophone .