By developing country standards, Madagascar has a
good human rights record. However, numerous human rights
violations, largely committed during the Ratsiraka regime,
caused concern among international humanitarian agencies.
late 1970s, the government enacted a law concerning
against X for Plotting and Attack State Security under
anyone can be arrested without warrant and held
without trial. The law also enables the security forces to
arrest, search, or seize property. Under the French penal
arrest is limited to forty-eight hours, but in Madagascar
arrest time is extended to fifteen days and is renewable
indefinitely. The authorities never release information
status of the detainees who often are real or suspected
of Ratsiraka. Many individuals in custody are beaten,
or deprived of medical care.
In the 1990s, Madagascar's human rights record became
controversial. During the prodemocracy unrest of the early
the Malagasy government committed excesses against some
opposition figures. In July 1991, for example, government
abducted and briefly detained four Forces Vives leaders
been nominated as provisional government ministers; it
to occupy their ministerial offices. On August 10, 1991,
Presidential Guard forces threw grenades and fired on a
some 300,000 people marching on the President's Palace to
for Ratsiraka's resignation. At least thirty demonstrators
killed and 200 wounded. On October 23, 1991, security
killed at least twelve people and wounded about seventy
prodemocracy demonstration in the capital.
In 1992 government violence continued to claim victims
throughout the country. On March 31, 1992, the authorities
eight and wounded thirty-one people when hundreds of proRatsiraka demonstrators tried to force their way into the
National Forum's debate on a new constitution. In October
government troops killed eight people during a clash with
a proRatsiraka group that was trying to close the Antsiranana
Apart from these and numerous similar incidents,
has taken some steps to improve its human rights record.
December 1990, the government abolished press censorship;
by mid1991 , the state-owned Malagasy Radio-Television allowed
opposition figures to appear on a weekly discussion
DGIDIE director, a former judge appointed in mid-1990,
prevent excesses against prisoners held in custody.
legal safeguards against arbitrary arrest and detention
always followed, especially in rural areas. Most Western
observers maintain that there probably will be further
improvements in Madagascar's human rights record as a
the country's commitment to democratization.
Data as of August 1994