Madagascar Human Rights and Corruption
Human rights and corruption
Human rights have been violated frequently in Madagascar’s history. Many people died a cruel death under the cruel Queen Ranavalona I, but also during the French colonial times during the wars of occupation. The protection of human rights is anchored in the Malagasy constitution and is also required internationally as a basis for cooperation and development cooperation. But the practice is often different. A national human rights commission set up in Madagascar in 1996 has never worked properly. In 2009 the human rights situation was particularly bad in the wake of the political crisis. Although the 2018 Human Rights Report overall praises approaches to improve the human rights situation, it does address the fact that in many areas there are still deficits in the implementation of the humane legal situation. These include the conditions of detention in prisons, the violation of children’s rights due to the high level of child labor, and the often violent actions of the police and security forces in criminal cases.
The treatment of cattle thieves (daholo) or the fact that perpetrators often go unpunished is described as particularly brutal. The affected regions – mainly in Madagascar’s south – hardly seem to be under state control anymore. Human rights defenders speak of terrorist operations against the population when they suspect cattle thieves.
Violations of children’s rights are common, mainly in rural areas, where poverty is generally appalling: the number of children working in plantation farming or in quarrying gems is high and often characterized by slave-like conditions. Many girls also work in households and are poorly paid, almost a fifth of all girls do not attend primary school, 40% do not attend secondary school. Forced marriages and teenage pregnancies are still too common, and ongoing child prostitution and child trafficking require effective legal action. Factors such as homelessness, malnutrition and lack of access to basic medical services had an impact, according to UNICEF also adversely affect the living conditions of children as a whole.
Although women are treated as equals under the law, they are often subject to discrimination, sexual harassment or rape.
According to ethnicityology, the plague spread in 2016 due to the poor hygienic conditions in Madagascar’s prisons. The scourge of mankind, long exterminated, could flare up again here, which is also viewed with concern internationally in medical circles.
The corruption in Madagascar is unfortunately unabated high. The country was ranked 158th out of 180 countries in the 2019 Transparency International ranking. Transparency International gives Madagascar a value of 24/100 points (0 = worst, 100 = best), the best value so far was achieved in 2008. Apparently the country is becoming more and more corrupt, although government programs against corruption and for improving the functioning of institutions have been passed. In 2016 the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (Nouvelle Stratégie nationale de lutte contre la corruption = SNLCC) in cooperation with several international and national organizations, including PNUD, CSI (= Comité de la Sauvegarde de l´Intégrité), SAMIFIN (Service de Renseignements Financiers de Madagascar) and BIANCO. The new anti-corruption administration (PAC = Pôle Anti-Corruption) aims to completely rid Madagascar of corruption by 2025. Although BIANCO is also successful, corruption has not improved from 2014 until today, but rather worsened. Corruption cases are repeatedly known among politicians. Also internationally corruption is criticized against the background of increasing poverty in the country. Even with all promises, the population does not believe in an end to corruption and rather suspects conflicts among corrupt representatives of official bodies should the announced laws – which serve to prosecute corruption, but also reclaim the misappropriated funds – are implemented.
The civil society activity is traditionally in Madagascar – except Fokonolona – weak. There is a lack of modern social reformers to stabilize political fragility or as a balancing element. The political, institutional and legal framework of civil society organization is seen as obsolete and fragmented. The four Christian churches can be regarded as the most important actors in a relatively independent work. Protestants, Catholics, Lutherans and Anglicans have come together to form an ecumenical council (FFKM = Fikamba-nan’ny Fiangonana Kristiana Malagasy), which is responsible for important projects contributes to health, social and school systems, supports development policy initiatives or contributes to environmental protection. Since 60% of the Malagasy people belong to one of the four major Christian denominations, the church has a certain political and social power. In politics, the Protestant Church seems to be behind Ravalomanana, the Catholic Church behind Rajoelina. Smaller civil society groups have only been active for some time, among other things to improve the food situation in rural areas.
From a socio-political point of view, trade unions are rather insignificant because unemployment is rising and a large part of the population works in the unorganized informal sector. Recently, however, their activity seems to have increased, also through calls for strikes. Traditional entrepreneurship hardly exists in Madagascar. Individual personalities like Andry Rajoelina or Marc Ravalomanana, who became politically active as entrepreneurs, are the exception.
At the development policy level, the EU would like to strengthen cooperation with civil society organizations in Madagascar in order to make society more legitimate and efficient, to support politics in its rule of law and to use local development impulses. Among other things, a powerful cooperation program (DINIKA) was recently signed for this purpose. The EU also supported Malagasy civil society in monitoring the last elections at the end of 2018.
Due to the expansion of communication options in social networks, a new, mainly young civil society – mainly in Antananarivo – has established itself in recent years. The Wake up Madagascar movement is involved in demonstrations against corruption, for the improvement of the living conditions of the population, for alleviating poverty and against the overexploitation of Malagasy nature. With music events and concerts abroad, Wake up Madagascar also draws international attention to the problems in Madagascar.