On May 15, Christopher Magnenjiky was arrested and charged with rebellion, civil disobedience, and “disrespecting a public officer.” Tomorrow, a judge is expected to make a decision regarding Christopher’s fate. Many fear that Christopher will join the long list of activists unjustly jailed in Madagascar – all because they challenge the activities of illegal timber barons and a corrupt government that protects them.
Christopher is now detained at the Maroantsetra central prison. His case closely resembles those of previous activists jailed in Madagascar, where obtaining access to supporting documentation for the arrest is close to impossible; unfounded charges including “rebellion” and “disrespect” are the meager justification for detainment; and the trial is kept as confidential as possible.
According to Amnesty International, the current detention of Christopher is itself unlawful. Tamara Léger, Madagascar Programme Advisor, explains: “While Christopher is still presumed innocent according to the law, he has already spent more than three weeks behind bars in the Maroantsetra prison and his request for temporary release was refused. This violates Madagascar’s own Constitution which provides that pre-trial detention must only be used in exceptional circumstances.”