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Madagascar[1] [print]

Last edited: December 2005

 

Summary and Analysis

 

After ratifying the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in December 1990, Madagascar added a reference to the Convention in the preamble of the Constitution, effectively giving the CRC constitutional authority.   Though Madagascar ratified the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACC) in March 2005, the legislature has yet to add a constitutional reference.  Still, the Constitution cannot negate provisions of the ACC, because a treaty can only be ratified in Madagascar if it is in conformity with the Constitution.[2]

 

Madagascar's child protection system is merged with its juvenile delinquency system.  Not only are protection proceedings and delinquency proceedings governed by the same ordinance, but the procedural requirements are identical.  It should be noted, however, that the possible outcomes of the two types of proceedings differ; a child in need of protection cannot be sent to a juvenile jail or training school.  Proceedings take place in juvenile courts, in which the Juvenile Judge or another designated Magistrate, "shall be entrusted with the judicial protection . . .of minors whose safety, morality, health or education are found compromised."[3]  Though legislation provides for protective proceedings and the Ministries of Health, Education and Population are all responsible for child welfare, Madagascar has little in the way of social services for children or municipal officials charged with investigating reports of maltreatment.  In its report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the country admits that children in rural areas are not well protected, because the law enforcement and courts are inadequate.[4]  Furthermore, the report goes on to state, "In the urban centres, social welfare and protection staff is inadequate, if not non-existent, while the members of the urban police force are already overwhelmed by the rise in crime in general."[5]

 

According to Madagascar's legislation, the juvenile judge consults the child directly in both protective and delinquency proceedings.  Though the Ordinance on the Protection of Children only specifically mandates such consultation in Article 11 in reference to delinquency proceedings, the law states that the investigation by the judge in protection proceedings be carried out, "under the conditions envisaged by articles 11 and 12."[6]  It is unclear how the child's opinion affects the decision-making process.  In practice, Article 12 is difficult to implement in Malagasy society, which traditionally believes that children cannot express opinions, but must rely on the wisdom of their elders.[7]  (The term "Malagasy" refers to the population of Madagascar.)

 

Other than the revisions to the Constitution, Madagascar has enacted very little new legislation regarding children since the ratification of the CRC, at least in part due to political upheaval in recent years.  Still, even apart from the political and social turmoil, many factors hinder the implementation of the Convention.  The UN Development Programme estimated in 2005 that 71.3% of the population was living in poverty between 1990 and 2003.[8]  The country has been ravaged by natural disasters such as cyclones and floods, leaving many people homeless.  Also, according to the U.S. State Department, child prostitution and labor, including forced labor, continues to be a problem.[9]  Moreover, Madagascar is working against the entrenched cultural views that regard children as having duties, not rights.[10]

 

Sources of Law (In Order of Authority)

 

Original Text

 

International Law

 

Convention relative aux droits de lénfant,[11] ratifié le 19 décembre 1990

 

Article 12

1. Les Etats parties garantissent à l'enfant qui est capable de discernement le droit d'exprimer librement son opinion sur toute question l'intéressant, les opinions de l'enfant étant dûment prises en considération eu égard à son âge et à son degré de maturité.

2. A cette fin, on donnera notamment à l'enfant la possibilité d'être entendu dans toute procédure judiciaire ou administrative l'intéressant, soit directement, soit par l'intermédiaire d'un représentant ou d'une organisation approprié, de façon compatible avec les règles de procédure de la législation nationale.

 

Charte Africaine des Droits et du Bien-etre de l'Enfant[12]

 

Article 4  Interet superieur de l'enfant

...

2. Dans toute procédure judiciaire ou administrative affectant un enfant qui est capable de communiquer, on fera en sorte que les vues de l'enfant puissent être entendues soit directement, soit par le truchement d'un représentant impartial qui prendra part à la procédure, et ses vues seront prises en considération par l'autorité compétente, conformément aux dispositions des lois applicables en la matière.

 

Article 7  Liberte d'expression

Tout enfant qui est capable de communiquer se verra garantir le droit d'exprimer ses opinions librement dans tous les domaines et de faire connaître ses opinions, sous réserve des restrictions prévues par la loi.

 

Constitution

 

Constitution de la République de Madagascar[13]

 

Preambule

. . . Considérant sa situation géo-politique dans la région et sa participation engagée dans le concert des nations et faisant siennes :

- la Charte Internationale des Droits de l'Homme,
- la Charte Africaine des Droits de l'Homme et des Peuples,
- les Conventions relatives aux Droits de la Femme et de l'Enfant,

qui sont toutes considérées comme partie intégrante de son droit positif ; . . .

 

Statutes

 

Ordonnance 62-038 du 19 septembre 1962 sur la protection de l'enfance[14]

 

Article 10

Lorsqu'il convient seulement de prendre des mesures de protection, le juge des enfants est saisi par le procureur de la République, par les parents, par le représentant légal ou par l'enfant lui-même : il peut, en outre, se saisir d'office.

Après avoir prescrit, le cas échéant, une enquête sociale et un examen médical dans les conditions prévues aux articles 11 et 12, il ordonne la remise du mineur à ses parents, à son représentant légal, à une personne digne de confiance ou à une institution agréée par l'Etat.

 

Article 11

En cas de délit, le juge des enfants est saisi par le procureur de la République ou par la personne lésée.

L'information est secrète : les dispositions du Code de procédure pénale sur les droits de la défense ne lui sont pas applicables.

Le juge des enfants entend le mineur, ses parents, les personnes ayant autorité sur lui, ainsi que toutes celles dont il estime utile la déposition.

Il fait tout acte d'instruction qu'il estime utile à la manifestation de la vérité en se conformant aux dispositions du Code de procédure pénale.

Il peut ordonner une enquête sociale ayant pour objet de parvenir à la connaissance de la personnalité du mineur ; cette enquête portera notamment sur ses antécédents, sa fréquentation scolaire, les conditions matérielles et morales dans lesquelles il vit, les moyens appropriés à sa rééducation.

Il a également la faculté de prescrire un examen médical.

Il peut décerner tous mandats utiles en observant les règles du droit commun.

 

Translation[15]

 

International Law

 

Convention on the Rights of the Child, [16] ratified Dec. 19, 1990.

 

Article 12

1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.

2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.

 

African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child,[17] signed Feb. 2, 1992, ratified Mar. 30, 2005.

 

Article 4:  Best Interests of the Child

 

2. In all judicial or administrative proceedings affecting a child who is capable of communicating his/her own views, an opportunity shall be provided for the views of the child to be heard either directly or through an impartial representative as a party to the proceedings, and those views shall be taken into consideration by the relevant authority in accordance with the provisions of appropriate law.

 

Article 7: Freedom of Expression

Every child who is capable of communicating his or her own views shall be assured the rights to express his opinions freely in all matters and to disseminate his opinions subject to such restrictions as are prescribed by laws.

 

Constitution

 

Constitution of the Republic of Madagascar[18]

 

Preamble

. . . Considering its geopolitical situation in the area and its participation engaged in the concert of the nations and endorsing:

- The International Charter of Human Rights,

- The African Charter of Humans Rights and of the People,

- The Conventions on the Rights of the Woman and of the Child,

which all are regarded as integral part of its substantive law; . . .

 

Statutes

 

Ordinance 62-038 of September 19, 1962 on the Protection of Children[19]

 

Article 10

When it only comes to taking protective measures, the juvenile judge is referred by the prosecutor of the Republic, by the parents, by the legal representative or by the child herself: he can, additionally, refer himself.

After having required, if necessary, a social investigation and a medical examination under the conditions envisaged by articles 11 and 12, he orders the return of the child to her parents, to her legal representative, to a trustworthy person or an institution approved by the state.

 

Article 11

In the case of an infraction, the juvenile judge is referred by the public prosecutor or by the injured party.

The information is secret: the provisions of the code of criminal procedure on the rights of the defense are not applicable to it.

The juvenile judge hears the minor, his parents, the persons who have authority toward him, as well as all the others whose deposition he deems useful.

He makes any act of instruction which he deems useful for the manifestation of truth while conforming to the provisions of the code of criminal procedure.

He can order a social investigation with the goal of obtaining knowledge of the personality of the minor; this investigation will inquire into his past, his school history, the material and moral conditions in which he lives, the means given to his reeducation.

He also has the ability to prescribe a medical examination.

He can decree all useful mandates by observing common law rules.

 

Additional Resources and Links

 

Droits et Protection des Enfants- Rights and Protection of Children (French) http://www.population.gov.mg/ProjetDPE.htm



Endnotes

[1] This page is also available as a .pdf Document, and Word Document.

[2] Constitution de la République de Madagascar, Const. du 18 septembre 1992, art. 82.3 VIII (1998), available at http://www.simicro.mg/hcc/hcc/constitution.html, and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[3] Ordinance 62-038 of Sept. 19, 1962 on the Protection of Children, art. 8, available at here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[4] Initial reports of States parties due in 1993: Madagascar, Committee on the Rights of the Child, Sept. 13, 1993, ¶198(a) U.N. Doc. CRC/C/8/Add.5, available at http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf.

[5] Initial reports of States parties due in 1993: Madagascar, ¶198(c), supra note 3.

[6] Ordinance 62-038 of Sept. 19, 1962 on the Protection of Children, art. 10, supra note 2.

[7] Initial reports of States parties due in 1993: Madagascar, ¶32, supra note 3.

[8] U.N. Development Programme, Human Development Report 2005 at 228 (2005), available at http://hdr.undp.org/statistics/data/countries.cfm?c=MDG.

[9] Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Madagascar, §5 (U.S. Department of State, 2005), available at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41612.htm.

[10] Initial reports of States parties due in 1993: Madagascar, ¶120, supra note 3.

[11] G.A. Res. 44/125, U.N. GAOR, 44th Session, Supp. No. 49, U.N. Doc. A/44/736 (1989), available at http://www.unicef.org/french/crc/fulltext.htm.

[12] Charte Africaine des Droits et du Bien-etre de l'Enfant, opened for signature July 11, 1990, OAU Doc. CAB/LEG/153/Rev.2, available at http://www.africa-union.org/.

[13] Constitution de la République de Madagascar, Preambule, supra note 1.

[14] Ordonnance 62-038 du 19 septembre 1962 sur la protection de l'enfance, art. 10, 11, available at http://droit.francophonie.org/doc/html/mg/loi/fr/1962/1962dfmglgfr5.html, and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[15] Unofficial translations of the constitution and ordinance by a translator provided by the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization.

[16] G.A. Res. 44/125, U.N. GAOR, 44th Session, Supp. No. 49, U.N. Doc. A/44/736 (1989), available at http://www.ohchr.org/english/law/crc.htm.

[17] African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, opened for signature July 11, 1990, OAU Doc. CAB/LEG/24.9/49, available at http://www.africa-union.org/.

[18] Madag. Const., Const. of Sept. 18, 1992, Preamble (1998), supra note 1.

[19] Ordinance 62-038 of Sept. 19, 1962 on the Protection of Children, art. 10, 11, supra note 2.

 

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