Madagascar 2019

People living in poverty faced multiple barriers to accessing their economic, social and cultural rights, and remained at risk. Prison conditions continued to be inhumane, overcrowding worsened and the excessive use of pre-trial detention persisted. In the second half of the year, the government committed to addressing the pre-trial detention crisis.


On 19 January, Andry Rajoelina was sworn in as President, taking over from Hery Rajaonarimampianina following an election. On 27 May, a parliamentary election took place to elect the 151 members of the National Assembly, characterized by low voter turnout (31%). The majority of the seats (84 out of 151) went to the presidential coalition      party, Isika Rehetra miaraka amin’I Andry Rajoelina (IRD,) as confirmed by the results pronounced by the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI). In August, the newly-     elected National Assembly held its first session.

International scrutiny

In November, Madagascar was examined under the UN Universal Periodic Review process for the third time.[1] Madagascar received 203 recommendations, including on torture and degrading conditions in prisons, decriminaliz     ation of abortion, and protection of human rights defenders. Madagascar accepted 163, took 29 recommendations under further consideration and rejected 11.

Economic, social and cultural rights

Access to economic, social and cultural rights remained precarious.[2] Infant mortality remained high, as did the rate of children under five suffering from stunted growth.  Access to education was low, with one child out of five      aged 6 to 10 and one child out of three aged 11 to 14 remaining out of school.  Half the population continued to lack access to clean water, and 20% lacked adequate sanitation.[3]

In August, the new government backtracked on a commitment made by the previous government to adopt a new Education Development Plan, which aimed at facilitating access to school for children living in rural areas. Several NGOs working in the education sector protested this decision.


Prisons remained extremely overcrowded, with the total number of detainees increasing, and conditions      still inhumane. As of June, the prison population had reached more than 28,000 people, 56% of whom were in pre-trial detention. This number is up from 23,759 detainees in December 2018, when the rate of pre-trial detention was at 53.21%.

In May, the Minister of Justice informed Amnesty International[4] that he had approved a new, more nutritious diet for detainees, as opposed to their existing diet of mainly cassava (manioc), often served only once a day. By December 2019, however, this new diet had not yet been implemented in all prisons across the country.

In October, following a press statement by the President emphasizing the need for fair trials, the Ministers’ Council moved to organize mobile court hearings in all regions of Madagascar, and to increase the use of alternatives to detention for minor offences. Later that month, President Rajoelina visited the capital city’s prison, and publicly denounced the conditions of detention, overcrowding and excessive use of pre-trial detention, including for cases of petty and minor offences. He announced a presidential pardon of detainees held for minor offences, and committed to accelerating trials throughout the country.

Police and security forces

Acts of torture and other ill-treatment perpetrated by the police and the military forces remained a common occurrence, particularly in the context of the government’s fight against alleged cattle rustlers. Security forces often raided and looted villages, burned down houses, and tortured or killed villagers during searches for suspected cattle rustlers. In January, Amnesty International documented harrowing images of eight men in Betroka, Southern Madagascar, whose bodies were bullet-riddled after they were shot by police during a raid – they were accused of trying to steal from a shop.[5]

Despite the statement from the Minister of Public Security, the government has failed to ensure justice and      redress, and to hold suspected perpetrators to account. There is still no accountability for the victims from the 2017 revenge attacks by policemen in Antsakabary, who burnt down 500 houses, leading to the death of an elderly woman.

Freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly

The rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly continued to be violated. In April, investigative journalist Fernand Avimana, popularly known as Fernand Cello, was acquitted, nearly two years after his arrest on charges related to his work and fabricated accusations that he had stolen a cheque book.[6] He had previously accused a mining company and an alleged government ally of running an illegal sapphire mine in Ilakaka, South-West Madagascar.

In April, members of a community opposed to a mineral sands project, Base Resources in South-West Madagascar, marched against plans to start mining. The local community, mainly consisting of farming and fishing families, have opposed the mining of ilmenite, zircon and rutile for seven years. On 2 May, authorities arrested 30 community members, accusing them of vandalising the company’s property during a demonstration. Twenty-one were released, but nine people from Benetse, Ampototse and Tsiafanoke were charged with burning and vandalizing the Base Resources exploitation campsite, and sent to pre-trial detention in Fianarantsoa prison on 9 May. On 13 June, the Fianarantsoa court acquitted them on charges of material destruction and arson and found them guilty of unarmed gathering without permission. They were released from prison and given six-month suspended prison sentences.

Sexual and reproductive rights

Abortion remained prohibited in all circumstances. An estimated 16% of maternal deaths were due to unsafe abortions – according to a Marie Stopes representative, three women died every day from a ‘spontaneous or provoked abortion’[7].


[1] Human Rights Council adopts Universal Periodic Review outcome on Madagascar (X/X/2019)


[3] Enquête nationale sur la situation socio-démographique des ménages (MICS) : les indicateurs restent faibles pour Madagascar,és-de-presse/enquête-nationale-sur-la-situation-socio-démographique-des-ménages-mics-les

[4] Madagascar’s new diet for detainees is a step in the right direction, Amnesty International Public statement, 12 June 2019, AFR 35/0519/2019

[5] Madagascar: Gruesome killing of suspected cattle thieves must be investigated, Amnesty International Press release, 1 February 2019

[6] Malagasy journalist acquitted nearly two years after his arrest, 17 April 2019, AFR 35/0218/2019

[7] Madagascar: les femmes et l’avortement illegal,

Madagascar Newsroom

April 20, 2020 • Press Release

Protect Detainees at Risk of COVID-19 in Sub-Saharan Africa, Unclog Prisons and Release Prisoners of Conscience

Authorities in Sub-Saharan Africa must take urgent action to protect people in detention from COVID-19, including releasing prisoners of conscience, reviewing cases of pre-trial detention, and guaranteeing access to healthcare and sanitation products in all facilities, Amnesty International said today.

October 24, 2018 • Press Release

Madagascar: Unjustified, excessive and prolonged pre-trial detention keeps thousands in life-threatening prison conditions

People who have not been found guilty of any crime are dying in Madagascar’s prisons due to appalling conditions, Amnesty International said today, as it released a report highlighting how the …

April 24, 2018 • Press Release

Madagascar: Investigate the killing of two protesters

Malagasy authorities must ensure a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation into the killing of two demonstrators in Antananarivo and perpetrators must be brought to book, Amnesty International said today. The …

February 22, 2016 • Press Release

Amnesty International’s Annual State of the World Report Slams Governments, Including the U.S., for Global Assault on Freedoms

On the launch of its 2015 State of the World report, Amnesty International USA urged President Obama to use his last year in office to bring U.S. laws and policies in line with international human rights standards.

February 18, 2016 • Press Release

Your rights in jeopardy, global assault on freedoms, warns Amnesty International

International protection of human rights is in danger of unravelling as short-term national self-interest and draconian security crackdowns have led to a wholesale assault on basic freedoms and rights, warned Amnesty International as it launched its annual assessment of human rights around the world. “Your rights are in jeopardy: they are being treated with utter contempt by many governments around the world,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

February 18, 2016 • Report

Amnesty International State of the World 2015-2016

International protection of human rights is in danger of unravelling as short-term national self-interest and draconian security crackdowns have led to a wholesale assault on basic freedoms and rights, warned Amnesty International as it launched its annual assessment of human rights around the world. “Your rights are in jeopardy: they are being treated with utter contempt by many governments around the world,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

February 25, 2015 • Report

State of the World 2014/2015

This has been a devastating year for those seeking to stand up for human rights and for those caught up in the suffering of war zones. Governments pay lip service to the importance of protecting civilians. And yet the world's politicians have miserably failed to protect those in greatest need. Amnesty International believes that this can and must finally change.

May 21, 2013 • Report

Annual Report: Madagascar 2013

REPUBLIC OF MADAGASCAR Head of state Andry Nirina Rajoelina Head of government Jean Omer Beriziky Serious human rights violations, including hundreds of unlawful killings by the security forces, as well …

June 28, 2011 • Report

Annual Report: Madagascar 2011

Head of state: Andry Nirina Rajoelina Head of government: Camille Albert Vital Death penalty: abolitionist in practice Population: 20.1 million Life expectancy: 61.2 years Under-5 mortality (m/f): 105/95 per 1,000 …

March 19, 2011 • Report

Annual Report: Madagascar 2010

Head of state Andry Nirina Rajoelina (replaced Marc Ravalomanana in March) Head of government Camille Albert Vital (replaced Cécile Manorohanta in December, who replaced Eugène Mangalaza in December, who replaced …

URGENT: Children seeking asylum in the U.S. are being denied their human rights based on their nationality — help ensure that all girls and boys fleeing violence can seek safety.