Madagascar - Corruption
The law provides criminal penalties for official corruption, but the government did not implement the law effectively, and officials engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. Corruption was pervasive at all levels of government, and the World Bank’s most recent worldwide governance indicators reflected corruption was a serious problem.
Organized crime is not a major issue due to poverty [is, not much to steal] and lack of education, though there are reports that a wide-range of mid- and senior-level military and government officials are involved in illegal activities, specifically cattle rustling in the south. In addition, there have been allegations of security forces using their official weapons to conduct home invasions and kidnappings or loaning their weapons to criminal elements to do so. At the upper levels, senior government officials have been linked to smuggling raw materials (gems, endangered animals, rosewood).
A major concern relates to wildlife trafficking, deforestation, and illegal fishing. Weak legislation, poor law enforcement, large geography, dilapidated infrastructure, lack of capacity/resources, and widespread corruption (including alleged involvement of government officials) made Madagascar a safe haven for illegal activities and businesses.
During the year 2015, the Independent Anticorruption Bureau (BIANCO) launched corruption investigations into several high-level officials or individuals reputed to be close to the government, although few investigations resulted in conviction.
In July 2015 a BIANCO investigation resulted in charges of illicit rosewood smuggling against Johnfrince Bekasy, a ruling party candidate in municipal elections in Sambava. Authorities dropped charges in August, when the prosecutor determined the case could not proceed because authorities had not notified the Ministry of Environment of the case. After objections from international partners, authorities reinstated the case in September 2015, and Bekasy returned to prison. In October 2015, authorities released him without explanation, and he departed the country, although subject to a travel ban.
BIANCO is a nominally independent government agency with a presidentially appointed director and oversight from the committee for the safeguard of integrity within the presidency. It is responsible for preventing, combating, and investigating corruption. A special anticorruption court prosecutes corruption cases referred by BIANCO. In 2014 BIANCO received 1,043 complaints involving corruption, of which 79 percent were deemed eligible for investigation; the bureau completed 650 corruption investigations in 2014. The largest number of corruption complaints targeted the national gendarmerie, decentralized institutions, the education sector, land management authorities, and the justice sector. These cases, however, did not reflect the full extent of corruption in the country, as citizens were less likely to report larger scale corruption cases involving influential individuals.
The law requires regular income and asset declaration for individuals in the following positions: prime minister and other government ministers; parliamentarians; members of the high constitutional court; chiefs of regions and mayors; magistrates; civil servants holding positions of or equivalent to ministry director and above; inspectors of land titling, treasury, tax, and finances; military officers at the company level and above; inspectors from the state general inspection, army’s general inspection, and national gendarmerie’s general inspection; and judicial police officers. Although BIANCO may inform the prosecutor’s office in cases of noncompliance, there was no indication authorities applied sanctions for noncompliance. Between January and September 2015, 70 parliamentarians and eight members of government, including the prime minister, had declared their assets.
The authorities are intensifying the implementation of the anti-corruption strategy. The strategy, adopted in 2015, includes: (i) strengthening of anti-corruption legislation; (ii) increasing the independence and resources of the public anti-corruption agency (BIANCO); (iii) developing an information system to track all legal anti-corruption cases; (iv) establishing a commission to improve the integrity of the judicial system; and (v) making the Council of Budget and Financial Discipline (CDBF) fully operational (structural benchmark).
Two new laws on declaration of assets and the formation of judicial anti-corruption centers were submitted to the Parliament in June 2016 and a third new law on asset recovery was submitted to the Parliament in October 2016. To advance judicial reform, the authorities are also aiming to: reduce the currently excessive delays in trying of court cases; make all decisions available online; establish new guidelines for the random assignment of court cases; and improve the functioning of the Supreme Judicial Council (Conseil Supérieur de la Magistrature).
The three anti-corruption agencies (Comité pour la Sauvegarde de l’Intégrité, BIANCO and SAMIFIN) have been bolstered, both financially and in terms of their strategy to strengthen the fight against corruption.
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