Madagascar is a semipresidential democratic republic with a popularly elected president, a bicameral legislature (Senate and National Assembly), prime minister, and cabinet. A presidential election was held in November 2018, with a two-candidate run-off in December 2018. The winner, Andry Rajoelina, took office in January 2019. Independent observers judged the election to be generally free and fair, despite several candidates’ allegations of irregularities in the electoral process, including voter suppression. Legislative elections took place in 2019. Observers judged these elections to be generally free and fair, with some irregularities. In December 2020 Senate elections, the ruling party and those closely aligned with it won all seats since opposition parties boycotted. Observers judged the Senate elections to be generally free and fair.
National police, under the authority of the Ministry of Public Security, are responsible for maintaining law and order in urban areas. The gendarmerie and military report to the Ministry of National Defense. The gendarmerie is responsible for maintaining law and order in rural areas at the village level, protecting government facilities, and operating a maritime police contingent. The military is also active in rural areas, particularly in maintaining order in areas affected by cattle rustling and banditry. Civilian authorities at times did not maintain effective control over the security forces. There were credible reports that members of the security forces committed numerous abuses.
Significant human rights issues included credible reports of: unlawful or arbitrary killings, including extrajudicial killings by government agents; torture or cases of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by government agents; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest or detention; political prisoners or detainees; serious problems with the independence of the judiciary; arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy; punishment of family members for offenses allegedly committed by an individual; serious restrictions on free expression and media, including unjustified arrests or prosecutions of journalists, censorship, and the existence of criminal libel laws; substantial interference with the freedom of peaceful assembly; refoulement of refugees to a country where they would face a threat to their life or freedom; serious government corruption; and lack of investigation of and accountability for gender-based violence.
The government prosecuted and punished some officials who committed abuses, whether in the security forces or elsewhere in the government; however, impunity remained a problem. The situation was the same regarding corruption – officials were sometimes investigated or prosecuted but impunity remained a problem.