Madagascar must quash sentence against environmental activist Raleva

Malagasy authorities should quash the two-year suspended jail sentence handed in 2017 to an environmental activist who was targeted for questioning the activities of a mining company, Amnesty International said ahead of his appeal hearing tomorrow in the city of Fianarantsoa.

Raleva was convicted of ‘use of false title’ in October 2017 after questioning the legality of the activities of a Chinese gold mining company which was later forced to shut down by the government for non-compliant reasons.

Raleva is not a criminal. He has been targeted for challenging a big corporate mining firm by asking for accountability around its activities
Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Southern Africa

“Raleva is not a criminal. He has been targeted for challenging a big corporate mining firm by asking for accountability around its activities,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Southern Africa.

“By questioning the mining activities of the company, Raleva was acting in the public interest. Instead of punishing him with a suspended prison sentence, the authorities should have publicized the information he was seeking and facilitated public participation in the mining project. Activists like Raleva need to be protected by their government, not criminalized.”

Environmental activists are often jailed in Madagascar for raising concerns about questionable business practices and their environmental impacts, including the exploitation of rosewood by multinational companies operating in the country.

Background
Raleva was arrested on 27 September 2017 after he attended a public meeting organized by representatives of the Chinese gold mining company, Mac Lai Sime Gianna (M.L.S.G.), and the local head of district. During the meeting, he demanded to see the company’s mining permits.

He was then arrested and charged for using a false title, ‘Head of district’ by the Mananjary tribunal, and handed a two-year suspended sentence on 26 October 2017. He was released after spending 25 days in pre-trial detention at the Mananjary prison and launched an appeal against his sentence.