• Sheet of paper Report

Annual Report: Madagascar 2011

June 28, 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
Adult literacy: 70.7 per cent

Human rights violations were committed with almost total impunity by the security forces, including unlawful arrests and detentions, excessive use of force against demonstrators and attacks on journalists and opposition leaders. Political opponents of the government were denied fair trials.


The political situation remained unstable and the international community was unable to resolve the political crisis that began in December 2008. Negotiations in Pretoria failed in May. Madagascar continued to be suspended from regional and international organizations.

Several ministers were dismissed by Andry Nirina Rajoelina, head of state and of the High Transitional Authority (HAT). Tensions remained high within the army. In May, at least four security personnel were shot dead in clashes in the Fort Duchesne military camp. Some senior officers and at least 22 gendarmes were detained following this incident. On 17 November, a mutiny erupted on the day of a national referendum and some military officers announced the creation of a “military council for the welfare of people”. They later surrendered to the HAT authorities.

Explosions occurred in various places including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in October.

A National Electoral Commission was installed in March and a national referendum and local elections took place in November and December; presidential elections were planned for 2011. The authorities banned any public demonstration during electoral periods.

Excessive use of force and unlawful killings

Regular public demonstrations organized by the opposition were violently dispersed by the security forces, resulting in deaths and injuries. Those responsible enjoyed impunity.

  • At least one student protestor at Antananarivo University in Antsiranana was shot dead by a member of the security forces in April. No independent investigation was conducted.

Arbitrary arrests and detentions

Political opponents of the HAT and supporters of former President Marc Ravalomanana were arbitrarily arrested and detained by the security forces. Some people arrested in 2009 were still detained. At least 18 detainees went on hunger strike.

  • Ralitera Andriamalala Andrianandraina, former Director of Security at the High Constitutional Court of Madagascar who was arrested in April 2009, remained in custody in Antanimora prison. In August, he was sentenced by an Antananarivo criminal court to a suspended two-year prison term on charges including endangering state security. He was not released because he was accused by the authorities of involvement in the killing of a bookshop employee at Ambohijavoto in April 2009. His new trial had not been scheduled by the end of the year. His health deteriorated in prison and he was admitted to hospital in mid-January 2010.
  • In May, a group of HAT officers arrested and beat Ambroise Ravonison and Harison Razafindrakoto, two members of the opposition who were participating in a radio broadcast in Antananarivo. Ambroise Ravonison was accused of insulting the president of the HAT. He was detained at Antanimora prison for two weeks and then sentenced to eight months’ suspended imprisonment. Harison Razafindrakoto was released.
  • On 8 October, Jaky Ernest Rabehaja, one of the leaders of a strike by magistrates in October, was arrested and forced to board a security force vehicle. He was later released on the outskirts of Antananarivo.

Freedom of expression – journalists

Journalists continued to be victims of harassment and intimidation. Private media outlets and those believed to have links with the opposition were targeted and at least three radio stations were closed down.

  • On 6 October, officials from the Ministry of Communication closed down the Fototra radio station owned by Saraha Georget Rabeharisoa, leader of the Green Party, who had recently announced that she was a presidential candidate.
  • Ten employees of Radio Fahazavàna, owned by the reformed Protestant church of Madagascar (FJKM), were arrested and detained in May and the radio station was closed down by the Ministry of Communication. They were conditionally released in September but the radio station remained closed at the end of the year.

Unfair trials

The trial of those accused of unlawful killings at Ambohitsorohitra presidential palace on 7 February 2009 started in June. At least 19 people were sentenced to various prison terms. The trial did not meet international standards of fairness. The right to defence, the right to challenge the lawfulness of detention, the right to a fair hearing and the right to defend oneself in person or through a lawyer were denied to some of the defendants.

  • On 28 August, an Antananarivo court condemned former president Marc Ravalomanana and eight other people to lifelong hard labour for their alleged involvement in the unlawful killings on 7 February 2009 in Antananarivo. An arrest warrant was issued against Marc Ravalomanana who was sentenced in his absence. The trial was criticized by members of the Malagasy Bar Association.