After its confirmation of the first cases of COVID-19, in March 2020, the government cancelled all international flights and announced a lockdown in the capital, starting on 22 March. Authorities gradually relaxed these measures, allowing schools and stores to reopen and reducing curfews. This was followed by a surge in new COVID-19 cases across the country; authorities subsequently announced a new lockdown in July, including the closure of schools and universities and cancellation of all non-essential travel. As of mid-December 2020, Madagascar had recorded nearly 17,600 COVID-19 cases and 259 deaths.
In April, President Andry Rajoelina launched “Covid-Organics,” a tea based on the plant Artemisia annua containing antimalarial properties. According to the Telegraph, after only having conducted two weeks of trials, the president began promoting it to the Malagasy public.
According to the Malagasy Ministry of Foreign Affairs, some 2,400 nationals were stranded abroad in March 2020 as a consequence of the closure of national borders. On 12 November, the IOM reported that after being stranded for some nine months, 75 Malagasy women returned to the country from Saudi Arabia via a flight chartered by the IOM. In June, IOM supported the return of 177 Malagasy nationals from Kuwait and 54 Malagasy nationals from Lebanon in October.
The GDP has been unable to establish the extent to which detention facilities are used in Madagascar as part of immigration enforcement procedure or to obtain details on COVID-19 related measures taken to safeguard people in immigration custody. However, the use of detention in migration procedures has previously been reported. In its concluding observations in 2018, the Committee on Migrant Workers stated that it was concerned about: “(a) Detention for breach of migration legislation, without recourse to a supporting explanation appropriate to the individual case and based on necessity; (b) The lack of information on alternatives to the detention of migrant workers, including those in an irregular situation, especially for unaccompanied children and families with children; (c) The lack of information and the conditions and maximum period of administrative detention of migrants awaiting expulsion.” The Committee recommended that Madagascar: (a) Ensure that the detention of migrants is an exceptional measure of last resort applied for the shortest possible time … (b) Adopt alternatives to administrative detention for migrant workers and members of their families … (c) Ensure that, in exceptional cases where detention cannot be avoided, migrant workers and members of their families are placed in special facilities, that they are held separately from ordinary prisoners and that conditions of detention comply with the United Nations Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.”
As regards the country’s prison system, on 27 June 2020, the president granted official pardons to all male prisoners over the age of 60, all female prisoners over the age of 55, and prisoners that have already served more than 10 years, including those sentenced to life in prison. In addition, all detainees whose prison sentence is less than three months and all minors having served half of their sentence were also released. In consequence, hundreds of prisoners were released on the same day. However, the measure only concerns sentenced prisoners (representing about 50% of the carceral population) and excludes any prisoners sentenced for corruption, money laundering, embezzlement, murder, damage to natural resources, and repeat offenders.
- IOM, “IOM, Partners, Support Madagascar Government to Return Stranded Vulnerable Migrant Workers,” 12 November 2020, https://www.iom.int/news/iom-partners-support-madagascar-government-return-stranded-vulnerable-migrant-workers
- Africa News, “Madagascar Takes Last Stand On COVID-19 Vaccine, Refuses Immunization,” 27 November 2020, https://www.africanews.com/2020/11/27/madagascar-takes-last-stand-on-covid-19-vaccine-refuses-immunization/
- UNICEF, “COVID-19 Situation Report, Madagascar,” 30 September 2020, https://www.unicef.org/media/83806/file/Madagascar-COVID-19-SitRep-30-September-2020.pdf
- RFI, “Madagascar: De Nombreux Prisonniers Libérés à La Faveur d’une Grâce Présidentielle,” 28 June 2020, https://www.rfi.fr/fr/afrique/20200628-madagascar-nombreux-prisonniers-lib%C3%A9r%C3%A9s-%C3%A0-la-faveur-d-une-gr%C3%A2ce-pr%C3%A9sidentielle
- Prison Insider, “La Fièvre des Prisons: Afrique: Madagascar: 27 Juin,” accessed on 15 December 2020, https://www.prison-insider.com/articles/afrique-coronavirus-la-fievre-des-prisons
- WorldoMeter, “COVID-19 CORONAVIRUS Pandemic,” accessed on 15 December 2020, https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/
- OHCHR, “Committee Against Torture Begins Examination of Report of Madagascar,” 10 November 2011, https://newsarchive.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=11587&LangID=E
- W. Brown, “Madagascar Experiments with ‘Miracle Cure’ As Virus Overwhelms Hospitals,” The Telegraph, 30 June 2020, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/science-and-disease/madagascar-experiments-miracle-cure-virus-overwhelms-hospitals/
- E. Sari, “Coronavirus: Why Madagascar is Back Under Lockdown,” Africa Report, 10 July 2020, https://www.theafricareport.com/33119/coronavirus-why-madagascar-is-back-under-lockdown/
- B. Adebayo, “Madagascar Reimposes Lockdown in Capital as Coronavirus Cases Surge,” CNN, 6 July 2020, https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/medical/madagascar-reimposes-lockdown-in-capital-as-coronavirus-cases-surge/ar-BB16oFAR
- A Health Official Spraying a Shop Front in Toamasina in June 2020, (Rijasolo, AFP, “Madagascar Experiments with ‘Miracle Cure’ as Virus Overwhelms Hospitals,” The Telegraph, 30 June 2020, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/science-and-disease/madagascar-experiments-miracle-cure-virus-overwhelms-hospitals/)