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[Press Relase] Madagascar: The Committee against Torture calls for effective measures to stop torture and improve living conditions in prisons

November 2011

[English] [français]

Antananarivo, Geneva, Paris – 28 November 2011.

At the 47th session of the United Nations Committee against Torture, held in Geneva from 31 October to 25 November 2011, the Committee experts examined the periodic report of Madagascar on the implementation of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

At the end of the session, the Committee against Torture issued its recommendations, calling on the Malagasy authorities to conduct independent, impartial and thorough investigations into cases of torture and ill-treatment. Committee members have expressed concern at the shortcomings of the law of June 25, 2008, which, while criminalising torture, does not provide for appropriate punishment enabling it to act as a deterrent. In addition, this law has not been incorporated into the Criminal Code, thereby making its enforcement complicated. The experts are also concerned about the poor living conditions in prisons and urge the authorities to ensure that detainees are given the assistance of a lawyer, a medical examination and access to food and medical care. They call on the authorities to resort to alternative sentences to imprisonment to ease prison congestion. Lastly, the Committee reminds Madagascar of its obligation to carry out investigations automatically and without a prior complaint from the victim wherever there are reasonable grounds to believe that an act of torture has been committed.

The Committee’s observations and recommendations largely echo those contained in the alternative report by FIACAT, the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and ACAT Madagascar. This report highlights serious violations of the ban on torture by the Malagasy authorities, especially in places of detention. ACAT Madagascar has documented several cases of torture of detainees, especially in Manakara prison in the south of the country. However, no disciplinary or criminal proceedings have been instituted against prison guards and the law of 25 June 2008 criminalising torture has never been invoked in the courts.

The alternative report also provides a detailed overview of detention conditions which FIACAT and the OMCT regard as constituting cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. People are held in overcrowded prisons and often sleep on the floor. They lack access to care and food is very limited and of poor quality. Malnutrition and neglect are the main causes of death.

"The onus is now on the Malagasy authorities quickly to set up an action plan to implement the recommendations of the Committee against Torture, as an effective means of combating torture and ill-treatment," said Gerald Staberock, Secretary General of OMCT, when the recommendations were issued. In cooperation with relevant actors, FIACAT, the OMCT and ACAT Madagascar will closely follow the process of implementing the recommendations over the coming years.

The Committee against Torture is a UN body of 10 independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment by its States parties. All States parties are required to submit reports to the Committee on how the rights enshrined in the Convention are being enforced. The Committee examines each report and addresses its concerns and recommendations to the State party in the form of "concluding observations".

Further reading:
Alternative report by FIACAT, the OMCT and ACAT Madagascar on the implementation by Madagascar of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

Press contacts:
- FIACAT: Guillaume Colin – g.colin@fiacat.org - +33 (0)1 42 801 01 60
- OMCT: Gerald Staberock – omct@omct.org - +41 (0)22 809 49 39
- ACAT Madagascar: Maria Raharinarivonirina / Laure Rabetokotany – + 261 33 28 350 53 / + 261 34 17 762 55 – acatmadagascar@yahoo.fr

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