AI fingers Madagascar cops

2012-11-20 22:23

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Antanarivo - Amnesty International on Tuesday called on Madagascar to rein in its "rampaging" security forces after a crackdown on cattle-rustling gangs killed dozens of people, including children, in the south of the country.

Amnesty cited witnesses that claimed children, elderly people and the physically disabled "were burned alive when security forces indiscriminately set fire to villages as part of the military operation".

"Madagascar's rampaging security forces must be brought under control," Amnesty said in a statement.

Police killed 40 cattle thieves, dubbed dahalos, during the two-month operation, which started in September.

The thieves had reportedly killed 14 security officers earlier in the year.

Witnesses claimed that in one of the "many raids on villages" security forces burned 95 homes in Elonty district and killed at least 11 people including a six-year-old girl, Amnesty said.

During the raids, security forces allegedly executed suspects on the spot, including one physically disabled person, as well as the parents and wife of a high-profile suspect.

"We are hearing of punishment and persecution of individuals and communities in the south which could amount to human rights abuses on an appalling scale," said Amnesty International researcher Christian Mukosa after a visit to Madagascar.

A school was also burned and crops destroyed, though officials claimed only marijuana farms were destroyed.

"The government has to rein in its security forces and launch an independent investigation into these allegations," Amnesty said.

More than 250 other people have also been killed this year around the southern town of Fort Dauphin, in communal clashes sparked by cattle thefts, according to Amnesty.

Police last week admitted to killing 27 thieves and two villagers during a 60-day operation. They alleged the Indian Ocean island's ousted president Marc Ravalomanana had contributed to the sharp escalation in violence when he set up a cattle export ranch in the region.

The London-based rights lobby group expressed concern that the spate of violence posed serious concerns for the security of civilians in the region ahead of presidential elections planned for May 2013.

The rampant theft of cattle evolved from a customary practice in which a youth must steal an animal to prove his manhood and win the favour of his in-laws.

But the rustling escalated this year, fuelled by a growing market.

The prized Zebu cattle, akin to the humped Brahman cattle considered sacred in India, have become the target of a booming criminal trade in the isolated southern parts of the world's fourth-largest island.

Read more on:    ai  |  madagascar  |  southern africa

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.