Madagascar: Free environmental activist detained for political reasons

The Malagasy authorities must immediately and unconditionally release an environmental activist detained on politically motivated charges, Amnesty International said in a letter to the government.

Today marks exactly six months since Clovis Razafimalala was detained for allegedly destroying public property and documents in a protest that he never attended. He was subsequently charged with rebellion, destruction of public documents and goods, and arson.

The arrest and continued detention of Clovis Razafimalala seems to be a clear case of the ongoing pattern of silencing critical views in Madagascar
Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa

“The arrest and continued detention of Clovis Razafimalala seems to be a clear case of the ongoing pattern of silencing critical views in Madagascar,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.

“We believe that he is being unlawfully detained on fabricated charges purely because of his peaceful environmental activism against the illegal trafficking of Madagascar’s natural resources.”

Clovis Razafimalala’s requests for bail have been denied without any explanation being given, according to his lawyer.

Background

Clovis Razafimalala was arrested on 16 September 2016, the day after a protest in Maroantsetra – a town on Madagascar’s north-east coast. The protest called for charges against the town’s former mayor to be dropped.

He is a known environmental activist in Madagascar, and has on many occasions denounced the illegal trafficking of rosewood and other timber as part of his role as the Coordinator of the Maroantsetra Lampogno coalition, a group fighting against illegal trafficking of natural resources.

According to his lawyer, his case is still under investigation six months after his arrest and a date has yet to be fixed for his trial.