Human rights group condemns killing of 22 detainees in Madagascar

Although we are headquartered in Washington D.C. USA, our reporters and editors are working around the globe to cover what you care about. We invite you to donate to our fundraiser to help us keep our quality news free and available for all.

A human rights organization has condemned the killing of 22 detainees in Madagascar. The inmates were killed by Malagasy security forces while escaping from Farafangana prison in the south-east of the country.

At least 20 of the prisoners were killed by security forces on August 23 after they escaped at around 12 p.m. from the Farafangana prison, two additional detainees died on August 24 from their injuries, and more remain hospitalized because of severe injuries. A total of 88 detainees escaped.

Reports said the prisoners got hold of a gun belonging to a prison guard, which has since been found, split into two groups with one attacking prison guards with stones and the other forcing a way out through the toilets.

[read_more id="2" more="Read full article" less="Read less"]

Local media reported that the detainees escaped to protest their prolonged pre-trial detention, the use of pre-trial detention for minor offenses, including ‘theft of a toothbrush’, squalid conditions of detention characterized by severe overcrowding, and the widespread corruption which pressures them to pay bribes to a variety of actors within the prison system.

Amnesty International said when its researchers visited Farafangana prison in 2017 and 2018, they witnessed poor infrastructure and inhumane conditions of detention including severe overcrowding. The organization also documented an excessive use of pre-trial detention at the prison in its report ‘Punished for Being Poor: unjustified, excessive and prolonged pre-trial detention in Madagascar’. 

As of May 2020, the prison housed 453 detainees, for an official capacity of only 260 only.

“‘This is an appalling attack on the right to life, which shows that the Malagasy government continues to neglect detainees’ lives,” Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southern Africa said in a statement received by TODAY NEWS AFRICA in Washington D.C.

Muchena added: “We have warned the authorities time and again that the squalid detention conditions in Madagascar, compounded by overcrowding and a lack of resources, would lead to tragedy. This should be a wake-up call for the government to urgently and comprehensively tackle its prison crisis.

“The authorities must immediately initiate an independent investigation into the deaths of these detainees and bring to justice those found responsible of using unnecessary lethal force. Security forces must be ordered to immediately stop the use of unlawful lethal force.

“Despite promises made by President Andry Rajoelina last year, overcrowding is still rife and pre-trial detention rates remain excessively high in Madagascar’s prisons. Conditions have worsened since the outbreak of COVID-19, with detainees no longer receiving visits from family or their lawyers. In addition, they live in fear of falling sick and not having appropriate access to healthcare.”

Media reports said in addition to the 20 prisoners who were killed on the spot, approximately 20 others were arrested, including eight who were severely injured and sent to hospital.

The state secretary in charge of the Gendarmerie said the deceased had ‘died under fire from the security forces, who had come to provide additional support because they [the prisoners] had resisted [re-capture] during the pursuit with the weapon they had stolen, and by throwing stones’.   

The director of the regional prison administration, Nadege Patricia Razafindrakala, told RFI that ‘some detainees escaped using a pirogue. When we tried to shoot, they disappeared…. The little pirogue sank’. Hours after the events, photos of the deceased’s bodies were shared on social media, shocking many users. Razafindrakala said detainees have not received visits from their family members since the outbreak of COVID-19, which could have been a factor behind the prison break.

According to their Facebook page, the Ministry of Justice told the regional director of the prison administration ‘to take all necessary measures’ to deal with the situation.


Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba
Based in Washington, District of Columbia, United States of America, Simon leads a brilliant team of reporters, freelance journalists, analysts, researchers and contributors from around the world to run TODAY NEWS AFRICA as editor-in-chief. Simon Ateba's journalistic experience spans over 10 years and covers many beats, including business and investment, information technology, politics, diplomacy, human rights, science reporting and much more. Write him: simonateba@todaynewsafrica.com


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Trending Now



Activists warn Nigerian President bill will render anti-corruption agency EFCC ‘a toothless bulldog’

Nigeria's Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari urging him to “urgently instruct Mr...

As dictatorship escalates, Ethiopia charges prominent opposition figure Jawar Mohammed with terrorism

As human rights organizations continue to warn that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is turning Ethiopia into a dictatorship, his administration on...

Trump reimposes all UN sanctions on Iran

The Trump administration said on Saturday it had reimposed all United Nations sanctions on Iran, although 13 of the 15 U.N....

Poison ricin mailed to Trump from Canada intercepted

Authorities in the United States are investigating a package containing poison ricin that was mailed to President Donald Trump last week.

Africa endorses protocol for COVID-19 herbal medicine clinical trials

The Regional Expert Committee on Traditional Medicine for COVID-19 formed by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Africa Centre for Disease...


South African president gives defense minister 48 hours to explain why air force plane was used to fly ANC members to Zimbabwe

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has given Minister of Defense and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula 48 hours to explain why a South...

IMF approves disbursement of additional $1 billion for Angola to respond to COVID-19 economic fallout

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Wednesday approved the disbursement of an additional $1 billion for Angola to respond to...

USAID awards millions of dollars to Washington State University to combat lethal livestock disease in East Africa known as East Coast Fever

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has awarded millions of dollars to Washington State University to combat a lethal livestock...

Damning report finds detainees in Iran were sexually abused and given electric shocks in gruesome post-protest crackdown

Iran’s police, intelligence and security forces, and prison officials have committed, with the complicity of judges and prosecutors, a catalogue of...

A world in disorder: WHO and World Bank experts say it would take 500 years to spend as much on preparedness as the world is currently losing to COVID-19

A new report by the World Health Organization Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, a joint arm of the WHO and the World Bank, warned...

Activists warn Nigerian President bill will render anti-corruption agency EFCC ‘a toothless bulldog’

Nigeria's Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari urging him to “urgently instruct Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation to withdraw the proposed executive bill to amend the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act, which if passed and signed into law will severely undermine the commission’s independence,...

Stay connected


[read_more id="2" more="Read full article" less="Read less"]