The new killing of 22 prisoners in Madagascar during a jail escape on Sunday 23 August has taken the extraordinary condition of the country’s prisons to the forefront. The murders have been condemned by the human rights organisation Amnesty International, criticizing the current legal system that has led to more inmates awaiting prosecution than convicted criminals being held in Madagascar ‘s jails.
While news media reported the deaths of 20 prisoners in a police and army battle during the jail break on Sunday, during which 88 prisoners attempted to escape from Farafangana prison. Thirty-seven of them were finally convicted, with the other 31 inmates still at large.
Tamara Leger, Amnesty International’s policy analyst for Madagascar, told IPS that the new legal framework required that everyone, including those accused of a crime, be kept in front of the trial bars.
This way, they would all “wait years for a trial, with few or no knowledge about their proceedings,” she said. “It has led to the peculiar situation where more people are held in Madagascar ‘s prisons, but have not been convicted than those found guilty.”
Amnesty International ‘s study on the matter states that the break-up involved revenge for “squalid” living conditions, prolonged pre-trial detention or pre-trial for small offences such as “theft of a hair clip”
75 per cent of children held in jails in Madagascar are in the pre-trial process, rights activist claims. Breakouts in mass prisons are not unusual in the world. Human rights activist: The use of “unjustified, unreasonable and prolonged unlawful pretrial detention by authorities