According to Amnesty International, at least 52 people died in Madagascar's prisons last year while awaiting trial due to "appalling prison conditions."
In a report published on Tuesday, the global rights group also said that thousands of people who have not been convicted of any crime were subjected to "life-threatening prison conditions," including severe overcrowding and poor hygiene, as well as as the lack of food. and medical assistance.
The main causes of death were respiratory problems and cardiovascular diseases, Amnesty said, citing prison authorities.
The report was based on visits to nine prisons where more than 11,000 people had been remanded in custody, the group said.
"Many of those detained for long periods without trial were charged with minor and non-violent offenses," said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International's regional director for South Africa.
"The poorest, including women and children, with the least recourse to legal assistance, are the ones who suffer most," he added.
This "excessive, excessive and prolonged" unjustified "preventive detention violates international and national law and constitutes cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, said Amnesty.
|Detainees in pretrial detention were subject to life-threatening conditions, including severe overcrowding and inadequate food and medical care, Amnesty said. [Richard Burton/ Amnesty International]|
The Ministry of Justice of Madagascar, in a September letter to Amnesty, said it was aware of the problem.
The Ministry He blamed "population growth and rising crime rates" for serious overcrowding and said he has "redoubled efforts" with new laws and policies to improve conditions.
According to the national laws of Madagascar, adults can be detained for up to five years and six months without trial and children up to 33 months.
Amnesty said that Madagascar's prisons house more people who have not been prosecuted than those who are found guilty. As of October 2017, 55 percent of the total prison population was in pretrial detention, according to the report.
One man said he had been in pre-trial custody for three and a half years because he was accused of stealing a cow.
Describing the conditions in a prison in Maintirano, west of Madagascar, he told Amnesty: "Forty-two of us sleep in the same room, but there is no room to sleep, I sleep on the floor, many people get sick, some cough, some tremble, others get very cold. " .
"And people fight over food because there's not enough … I really want a test because I really suffer here."
Women and children were disproportionately affected by some of the prison conditions, according to the report.
For example, pregnant women and women with babies do not have access to adequate medical care, and children do not have access to education, the group said.
The main reason for the long pre-trial detentions in the African country was limited and infrequent in judicial sessions for criminal cases, he added.