Madagascar: Sentence upheld against environmental activist
In response to the Fianarantsoa Appeal Court’s decision to uphold a two-year suspended jail sentence against environmental human rights defender Raleva for questioning the legality of a Chinese gold mining company’s activities, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa Deprose Muchena said:
“By upholding the ludicrous charge of ‘using a false title’ against Raleva, the court has confirmed our worst fears that challenging big corporates is costly in Madagascar.
“Raleva is not a criminal. This suspended sentence is designed to silence him and send a chilling message to other activists campaigning for human rights and the environment.
“The Malagasy authorities should be protecting activists like Raleva, who are fighting to preserve the natural resources of the country for future generations, not misusing the courts to muzzle them. The sentence against Raleva must be quashed and all charges against him dropped.”
Raleva was convicted of ‘use of false title’ in October 2017 after questioning the legality of the activities of a Chinese gold mining company, Mac Lai Sime Gianna (M.L.S.G.), which was later forced to shut down by the government for non-compliance reasons.
Raleva was arrested on 27 September 2017 after he attended a public meeting organized by representatives of the mining company and the local head of district. During the meeting, he demanded to see the company’s mining permits. He was released on 26 October pending his trial.
Environmental activists are often jailed in Madagascar for raising concerns about questionable business practices and their environmental impacts, including the exploitation of rosewood by multinational companies operating in the country.