Madagascar: Seminar on the implementation of the national anti-torture legislation and the UN Convention against Torture

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The APT visited Madagascar in September 2009 as part of a three year project aimed at facilitating and supporting the domestication of the UNCAT in Madagascar.

Date: 23 - 30 September 2009
Place: Madagascar
Partners: Ministry of Justice
ACAT - Madagascar
Purpose: To assist Madagascar stakeholders towards the effective implementation of the anti-torture law of 25 June 2008 and the UN Convention against Torture.
Activities: In 2005, Madagascar was one of the target countries within the framework of the APT worldwide campaign for the ratification and implementation of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture (OPCAT). Madagascar had the particularity that it had signed the UN Convention against Torture (UNCAT) as well as the OPCAT but had not ratified either of them. Thus, an APT delegation travelled to Madagascar from 14 to 21 March 2005 to advocate for the ratification of both instruments. As a result, the UNCAT was ratified in December 2005. Furthermore, the Minister of Justice in its letter of 28 April 2006 requested that the APT assist in the process of domestication of the UNCAT. Thus, in 2007 the APT assisted the Ministry of Justice in the drafting of an anti-torture law, which was adopted by Parliament in June 2008. It is in this context that the APT received funds from the European Commission to implement a 3 year project aimed at facilitating and supporting the domestication of the UNCAT in Madagascar.

In January 2009 Madagascar fell into a deep political crisis when President Ravalomanana was forced to quit power and was replaced by Rajoelina in a context of extreme violence. The new Government established by Rajoelina was subsequently boycotted by the international community. Given the political situation, it was decided that the APT Africa Programme Officer would undertake a visit to Madagascar to evaluate the feasibility of the project in view of the current environment, review the key orientation lines of the project if needed, and, accordingly, agree with main partners (Ministry of Justice and ACAT - Madagascar) on a realistic revised plan of activities.

The visit took place from 23 to 30 September 2009. The APT met with relevant authorities and stakeholders, including the Minister of Justice and other representatives of the Ministry, the ACAT-Madagascar, the Chief of the ICRC mission in Madagascar, the OHCHR delegation, the European Delegation, the General Director of the National School for Magistrates and Clerk, the Director of the Institution for Training of Lawyers, the General Director of the Police, the General Director of the Prisons, the President of the Bar Association of Antananarivo and civil society organizations. The conclusion of these meetings was that the new authorities were willing to continue the cooperation with the APT in this project. National stakeholders were also demanding and welcoming any possible initiative aiming at improving the conditions of detention and preventing torture and ill-treatment.

A seminar on the implementation of the national anti-torture law adopted on 25 June 2008 was also organised on 29 September 2009. The participants were offered the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the new legislation and to discuss how to implement it effectively. The seminar came up with useful recommendations suggesting a range of possible activities to be undertaken as next steps. These recommendations addressed the issues of:
  • the application of the provisions of the national anti-torture law;
  • the sensibilisation, training and education of the actors intervening in the criminal proceedings;
  • the elaboration and dissemination of tools (a manual on torture prevention, a practical guide on the anti-torture law, a module on torture prevention to be incorporated in the training curriculum of main training Institutes for law enforcement officials).