Madagascar

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Persistent violations
  • Violence against children (particularly in the home) [1]
  • Discrimination against children (particularly girls, children with disabilities, children with HIV or AIDS, twins and on the basis of nationality) [2]
  • Child Labour[3]
  • Juvenile justice: lack of specialised system, detention of children with adults and poor conditions in detention[4]
  • Education: limited access for, and high dropout rates among, girls and children in rural areas[5]
  • Trafficking in women and children[6]
  • Inadequate sexual and reproductive health services[7]

For more information, go here

Footnotes
  1. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Universal Periodic Review
  2. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee, UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Universal Periodic Review
  3. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
  4. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee, Universal Periodic Review
  5. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee n Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Universal Periodic Review
  6. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Universal Periodic Review
  7. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights



Introduction

An island nation in the Indian Ocean, Madagascar lies some distance off the southeastern coast of the African continent. After becoming independent from France in 1960, Madagascar struggled to maintain a stable democratic system with repeated periods of mass protest, regime collapse and transitional governments. The most recent of these, in 2009, saw a popular uprising develop into what has been widely described as a coup d’etat. Repression and attempts to restrict dissent during these periods of instability are a core problem with Madagascar's human rights record, but there are also persistent issues with child labour and corruption.


Geography

Madagascar is an Indian Ocean island off the southeastern coast of Africa. It is the world's fourth biggest island after Greenland, New Guinea and Borneo. Because of its isolation most of its mammals, half its birds, and most of its plants exist nowhere else on earth.

Population and language

Madagascar is home to 20.1 million people. Ethnic groups include Malayo-Indonesian (Merina and related Betsileo), Cotiers, French, Indian, Creole, and Comoran.

The official languages are Malagasy, French and English.

Politics and economy

Madagascar is a republic that gained independence from France in 1960. The country has been in political turmoil since 2009 after a change of power led by Andry Rajoelina (at that time the mayor of the capital city Antananarivo) against Marc Ravalomanana, who was forced into exile. This was designated an unconstitutional coup d’etat, and was rejected by the international community. Political mediation is still underway to resolve the crisis.

The World Bank has estimated that 70 per cent of Malagasy live on less than $1 per day.

Major exports include vanilla, coffee, cloves, shrimp, graphite, essential oils, apparel, industrial minerals and gemstones. France, the US and Germany are among its major trading partners.

Legal system

The legal system is based on French civil law system and traditional Malagasy law.

Media and civil society

The constitution provides for freedom of the press. However, according to Freedom House, governments have at times curbed press freedom in practice. The media are highly polarised and partisan, and there are dozens of licensed television, radio, and print outlets. Because of the low literacy rate, the print media are mostly aimed at the French-speaking urban elite.

The 2009 political crisis was sparked by the closure of a private television station run by Rajoelina because it aired an interview with former president Didier Ratsiraka without official permission. There have been reports of harassment and violence towards journalists. Media outlets have been raided by security forces. Freedom House says that the independent outlets that remain in operation increasingly practice self-censorship.

Human rights and children's rights

Human rights organisations have highlighted excessive force used against demonstrators by police forces, killing dozens of people and injuring hundreds. Members of the political opposition have been arbitrarily arrested and detained. There have also been allegations of the violation of the freedom of peaceful assembly and expression and the right to a fair trial. There is, in general, impunity for human rights violations.

Madagascar ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child on 19 March 1991, the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict on 22 September 2004, and the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography on 22 October 2004.

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