Tell Malagasy authorities to respect the human rights of pre-trial detainees

People who have not been found guilty of any crime are dying in Madagascar’s prisons due to appalling conditions. People accused of petty crimes, even children, are forced to stay in overcrowded and unhygienic prisons. In most prisons, there are more people awaiting trial than have been sentenced, and the broken justice system can delay trials for years.

Madagascar’s prolonged pre-trial detention violates a range of human rights, including the right to liberty, presumption of innocence, and to be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person. In fact, the miserably poor conditions of detention in which pre-trial detainees are held clearly amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Even in cases when individuals are released after a few months of pre-trial detention, their incarceration can have long-lasting consequences. They are likely to have lost their jobs, and to have plunged deeper into poverty. With the conditions they are held in, many are also likely to walk out of prison in a weaker physical and mental state.

Authorities of Madagascar must take immediate steps to ensure that pre-trial detention is an exception, rather than the rule. They must also ensure that all detainees are treated humanely and have their other human rights respected and protected.