Madagascar: Drafting a national anti-torture law

Friday, November 16, 2007

From 2 to 3 November 2007 the APT conducted a workshop to draft a national legislation against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (UNCAT) in Madagascar.

This workshop was organised jointly by the Ministry of Justice and the UNDP – Madagascar in collaboration with the APT, which was invited as an expert to facilitate the drafting process. The event was a follow-up on a previous APT initiative when, in January 2007, it co-organised with the Ministry of Justice a national seminar on the domestication of the UNCAT provisions.

The seminar gathered about 30 national key actors including representatives from the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Police, Parliament, Judiciary and Penitentiary Services as well as NGOs. Under the facilitation of the APT Africa Programme Officer, the workshop considered a preliminary draft elaborated by a Working Group put in place by the January 2007 Seminar. Thus, the drafting work was conducted as follow:

  • First of all, the APT Africa Programme Officer presented an analysis of the Convention against torture, highlighting key elements that should contain any legislation aiming to domesticate the UNCAT provisions. He also recalled the usefulness of the Robben Island Guidelines for the prevention of torture in such a process on the drafting of an anti-torture legislation.
  • The Working Group briefed participants on the process which led to the preliminary draft to be considered by the workshop. They stressed the importance of technical advice that APT provided through regular email communications. Then, participants were divided in three working groups each being assigned a specific part of the preliminary draft to review.
  • Finally, comments and amendment proposals from the working groups were compiled and discussions in the plenary led to a final draft approved by participants.

This draft law contains measures on the prohibition, the prevention and the repression of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. It provides also with measures on reparation and protection of victims.

The next stage of the process will be for the Ministry of Justice to forward the draft law to appropriate State institutions including the parliament for adoption.

It is important to highlight that the new Minister of Justice, Mrs. Bakolalao RAMANANDRAIBE RANAIVOHARIVONY, who was in function for only three days, participated in the opening and the closing of the workshop. This was encouraging for participants and perceived as a personal commitment. For the APT, it is a sign of the political will of Madagascar authorities to take concrete measures for prohibition and prevention of torture.