Madagascar: Strengthening the rights of persons in police custody

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Procedural safeguards within hours of arrest are essential to prevent the risk of torture and other ill-treatment. Anyone in custody should be able to benefit from fundamental safeguards, such as the right to a laywer, the right to see a doctor, or the right to notify a relative of his or her arrest, so that he or she is not subject to ill-treatment or enforced disappearance. 

That is why the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT) initiated a 3-year project with Madagascar's Ministry of Internal Security, with the goal of strengthening procedural safeguards in the first hours of police custody. The project, launched in May 2018, focuses on the introduction of a "letter of rights" to ensure all persons arrested by the police know their rights. It also intends to harmonise the use of custody registers. During 2018, the APT developed these tools to be tested for implementation in the four pilot police services in the capital, Antananarivo. 

From the 5th to the 10th of May 2019, an APT delegation visited Madagascar. The mission aimed at: 

  • presenting the above mentioned tools to relevant officials from the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Justice; 
  • introducing the tools to police officers from the four pilot police services; 
  • training project referents – identified earlier among police officers – who will supervise the implementation of these tools during the 9-month pilot phase from May. 

The APT representatives visited the four pilot police services when the tools were presented and explained to police officers that will implement and use them. At the end of the pilot phase, the letter of rights and the new custody regiser will be finalised and then disseminated to the entire police force of the Malagasy territory in 2020.