Madagascar: director of an opposition newspaper placed in pre-trial detention

MBC News – April 5, 2020

Arphine Helisoa, editor of “Ny Valosoa”, an opposition newspaper, supporter of former President Marc Ravalomanana, was imprisoned in Antanimora prison on Saturday. The journalist is accused of spreading false news and inciting hatred towards the government and in particular the President of the Republic, Andry Rajoelina.

“Andry Rajoelina, Mpamono olona (assassin in Malagasy, note)! Assassin! Killer! It is for this message, preceded by the keyword # Covid19 published on a Facebook page and on a website of the same name as the paper newspaper Ny Valosoa, that Arphine Helisoa, its editor, is behind bars. For master Willy Razafinjatovo, known as “master Olala”, his client has nothing to do with this publication since she is not the administrator of this website managed from France, he explains.

Wrongful detention

“She is only responsible for the newspaper written by Ny Valosoa in Madagascar. It’s more than an abuse. It is an abuse and politics because this woman is the editor of a newspaper which is of the opposition, underlines the lawyer. Around the world, even Amnesty International has asked that prisons be decongested because of the coronavirus, while we are doing the opposite: we are trying to fill them up a little more. ”

“The website used the paper newspaper. Here is the link between the two, ”continues Maître Olala. Like many other daily newspapers, this paper newspaper ceased to appear on March 22, specifies the lawyer, date of the beginning of the confinement in the capital. The publication on the website dates from April 2.

The press challenged by the epidemic

At a time when the coronavirus pandemic is making it difficult to exercise the profession of journalist, this pre-trial detention is very worrying for the president of the Order of Journalists of Madagascar (OJM), Gérard Rakotonirina. “For us journalists, this is an arbitrary detention that flouts the freedom of the press,” he explains. The press is currently in danger in Madagascar because those in power take advantage of the fight against this pandemic to muzzle it indirectly. It must also be said that the law on the fight against cybercrime does not provide for a custodial sentence. ”

No trial date has yet been released to the journalist’s lawyers. The latter have planned to oppose the commissioning of deposit of Arphine Helisoa.