The Republic of Madagascar and previously known as the Malagasy Republic, is an island country in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Southeast Africa. The nation comprises the island of Madagascar, which is the fourth-largest island in the world, as well as numerous smaller peripheral islands. Since gaining independence from France in 1960, Madagascar has experienced repeated political instability, including a number of coups d’état, violent unrest and disputed elections. The country has transitioned through four republics with corresponding revisions to the constitution.
At – a – glance
President: Hery Rajaonarimampianina
Official Languages: Malagasy, French
Population: 21.9 million
National Anthem: Ry Tanindrazanay Malala o!
Media & Freedom of Expression Landscape in Madagascar
The Madagascar constitution generally respects freedoms of speech and expression. Although previous governments had routinely ignored press freedom, the Rajaonarimampianina led government has demonstrated greater respect for media freedom and freedom of expression. In essence, reports about government censorship and intimidation has reduced considerably since 2014.
Nevertheless there are some laws which hinder the full manifestation of the media’s freedom. An example is the law on cybercrime which allows for the imprisonment of people should they commit online defamation of state officials. Per this law, journalists could be jailed up to five years for defamation. For instance, in July 2014, two newspaper journalists were arrested briefly on defamation charges related to reporting on the trafficking of rosewood. However, the charges were dropped within a few days.
The principal means by which the Malagasy population access news – international, national and local – is via broadcast radio. There is diversity in the ownership of media outlets. There are government owned radio and TV stations alongside privately owned ones which provide an alternative for the citizenry.
One influential media body in Madagascar is FOKO. This body engages in capacity building for journalists and bloggers in particular. It seeks to equip them with the necessary skills in order to efficiently use the internet.
For more information on FoE in Madagascar, visit Freedom House