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Madagascar - Gendermarie

The national police, under the authority of the Ministry of Public Security, are responsible for maintaining law and order in urban areas. The gendarmerie, under the Ministry of National Defense, is responsible for maintaining law and order in rural areas. The government did not have effective control over matters relating to rule of law outside the capital. Security forces at times failed to prevent or respond to societal violence, particularly in rural areas. Government institutions lacked any effective means to monitor, inspect, or investigate security forces, and impunity was a problem. Victims may lodge complaints in the local court of jurisdiction, although this rarely occurred.

Traffic law enforcement consists of stationary police on foot, typically wearing a white shirt or camouflage uniforms with grey (National Police) or red (Gendermarie) berets, randomly flagging down vehicles for inspection and verification of identification documents.

Due to the lack of resources and equipment available, police/gendarme response to victims of a crime is often limited, slow, or nonexistent. This is primarily due to the lack of staffing, training, and funding and reflects the broader economic deterioration. The likelihood of the security forces responding to an incident would depend on availability of personnel and gasoline for vehicles. Although police/gendarme responses to an incident involving a foreigner are normally taken seriously and dealt with quickly, there are reports indicating a failure of law enforcement to respond when called. Most police officers only speak Malagasy or at best minimal French and rarely speak English.

Police occasionally use reasons such as stopping people in vehicles for incorrect data or visa paperwork as leverage to obtain bribes, but in some reported cases the police simply ask for cadeaux, or gifts. Harassment is not uncommon but is typically related to bribe requests.

There were several reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings, under both the Ravalomanana government in 2009 and Rajoelina's de facto government during the year. Police and gendarmes continued to use unwarranted lethal force during pursuit and arrest. For example, on May 20, during a Religious Leaders' Movement (HMF) protest, an armed confrontation between dissident factions of the gendarmerie's Intervention Force (FIGN) and the joint armed forces sent with the Special Intervention Force (FIS) by the de facto regime resulted in the death of a religious leader, the death of a member of the FIS, and about a dozen injured among the armed forces and civilians.

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Page last modified: 12-10-2016 19:48:44 ZULU