Madagascar: Prime Minister’s denouncing of overcrowded prisons must be followed by action

In response to a statement by Madagascar’s Prime Minister last night denouncing the severe overcrowding, prolonged pretrial detention and other violations of human rights in the country’s prisons, Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa said:

Prime Minister Christian Ntsay’s statement after visiting Toamasina is a positive step in the right direction. This is evidence that the excessive use of pre-trial detention in Madagascar has caused overcrowding to reach grave proportions.
Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International

“Prime Minister Christian Ntsay’s statement after visiting Toamasina is a positive step in the right direction. This is evidence that the excessive use of pre-trial detention in Madagascar has caused overcrowding to reach grave proportions. His words must be followed by action.

“For almost a year now, since our extensive research, Amnesty International has been warning that the unjustified and excessive use of pre-trial detention is keeping thousands of people in life-threatening prison conditions

“The fact that more than 55 percent of the country’s prison population are still awaiting trial is a glaring example of how broken the criminal justice system is.

Authorities must promptly release all pre-trial detainees whose detentions are unjustified, arbitrary or prolonged – including those who are being held for petty offences, or simply because they are poor
Deprose Muchena

“Authorities must promptly release all pre-trial detainees whose detentions are unjustified, arbitrary or prolonged – including those who are being held for petty offences, or simply because they are poor. The authorities must also provide reparations to victims of unlawful pretrial detention and take steps to build an effective criminal justice system that respects human rights.”

Background

Prime Minister Christian Ntsay raised his concerns regarding the situation of pre-trial detainees during his visit to Toamasina in the east of Madagascar. It follows a violent incident between detainees and prison guards in the Ambalatavoahangy prison which took place on Saturday 20 July.