August 18, 2016 - Updated on August 19, 2016

Madagascar : journalists urge president to send media bill back to parliament

A collective representing all categories of journalists in Madagascar has just launched a petition urging President Hery Rajaonarimampianina to not promulgate a proposed new media law, called the Code of Communication, which has just been approved by the High Constitutional Court, and to instead send it back to parliament for revision. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) criticized some of the proposed law’s provisions in May, especially its disproportionate penalties for media offences.

Here is the text of the petition:

"We, journalists employed by or working for local and international media outlets, signatories of this declaration,

- Voice our disappointment at the High Constitutional Court’s decision to declare the Code of Communication to be in compliance with the constitution;

- Express our concerns about this law, which in our opinion tramples on the fundamental rights and freedoms of expression, opinion and information and constitutes a major obstacle to the practice of journalism;

- Regret that the calls issued by many bodies for a resumption of dialogue were not heeded and were therefore made in vain. We will just cite the Movement for Freedom of Expression, the Madagascar Group of New Media and Multimedia Publishers (GEPIMM), international media freedom NGOs, civil society groups and the international community;

- Deplore the fact that the president, who on 14 July nonetheless left a window open for dialogue and discussion with a view to resolving the problems arising from the Code, did not deign to follow through on his own statements and, on the contrary, allowed the process to continue its course.

As the process has not yet concluded and as we count on our leaders’ commitment to democratic values and universal principles of freedom, we the journalists who have signed this declaration,

- Hope that the president will not promulgate the Code of Communication in its present form and will instead submit it to Parliament for further deliberations, as he is allowed to do by the constitution;

- Reiterate our willingness to resume the participative process and announce our readiness to take an active part in the various discussions and consultations necessary for the further deliberations about this bill.

Antananarivo, 16 August 2016."

Madagascar is ranked 56th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index.

To find out more about the situation of freedom of information in Sudan, click here.