Madagascar: Absurd fine for environmental activist as crackdown continues

An absurd $8 USD fine handed to an environmental activist on fabricated charges is the latest example of the Malagasy government’s continued crackdown on people speaking out against the illegal trafficking of the country’s natural resources, Amnesty International said.

There is a striking resemblance between Christopher’s case and that of other environmental activists in Madagascar, who have also faced accusations of ‘rebellion’ as an excuse to silence them
Makmid Kamara, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director of Global Issues

Christopher Manenjika was today found guilty on trumped-up charges of “rebellion” and “insult to public agents” after spending more than three weeks in detention. His prosecution follows several similar convictions of environmental activists on the island, many of whom are facing prison sentences.

“There is a striking resemblance between Christopher’s case and that of other environmental activists in Madagascar, who have also faced accusations of ‘rebellion’ as an excuse to silence them,” said Makmid Kamara, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director of Global Issues.

“The amount of this fine, in comparison with the alleged crimes and given the serious nature of the charges, only further exposes its purpose as an intimidation tactic. The government’s aim is clear: to deter activists from their work in advocating for the protection of their right to a healthy environment. Christopher is not a criminal and the fine against him must be quashed.”

Christopher Manenjika is the communication coordinator for the Maroantsetra Lampogno coalition, a group campaigning against the illegal trafficking of Madagascar’s natural resources.

His role involves collecting information on cases of corruption, illegal trafficking of rosewood and mining exploitation. Another member of the coalition is Clovis Razafimalala, who spent almost a year in jail for his environmental activism between 2016 and 2017.

Manenjika had been in pre-trial detention in the Maroansetra prison since 15 May. His trial took place on 1 June at the Maroansetra court and his request for temporary release was refused.