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. It has a population of about 27,691,081.

Madagascar has ratified most of the key international and regional human rights instruments. However, it has failed to file six periodic reports to the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights as required by Article 62 of the African Charter.

While the constitution provides for freedom of the press, this guarantee is stifled by criminal defamation laws and other restrictions, that often put at risk the safety of journalists involved in the investigation of sensitive subjects such as cattle rustling and the illicit extraction and sale of natural resources.

While the Malagasy people have many freedoms, the Madagascan government maintains a tight grip on its media outlets. The government controls the issuance of broadcast licenses and can confiscate equipment or shut down stations if they violate sections of the Communications Code.

The precarious state of Madagascar’s media renders journalists and the media vulnerable to influence by businessmen and politicians, who own many media outlets.

During the Presidential elections campaign in 2018, almost all newspapers backed one or other of the leading political candidates limiting access to objective and independent reporting.

After the elections and because of the partisanship, journalists face threats, physical assault, arrests and detention as well as media shutdown. At the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the government targeted and harassed journalists and media outlets who allegedly  spread “false information” about the coronavirus  and the government’s response to the pandemic.  In reality the government wanted  people  and the media to believe in a possibility of some traditional herbs that they initially promoted even with the World Health Organisation denouncing the efficacy of such traditional medicine therapies.


The Code of Media Communication criminalised and establishes heavy fines for contempt, defamation, slander or insult of any public officer and journalists. Similarly, the cybercrimes law targets freedom of expression as well as press freedom online.

Madagascar is rated as partly free by the Freedom House’s Freedom in the World Country Report. It  is ranked at 57 out of 180 in 2021 World Press Freedom Index by RSF This are three positions below its ranking in 2020. ARTICLE 19 in its Global Expression Report 2021 categorized Madagascar as a restricted country with a score of 49 out of 100.

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