Fifty-two people died in pre-trial detention in Madagascar last year as the country grapples with paralysis in its judicial system, rights group Amnesty International said on Tuesday.

It warned that 55 percent of the Indian Ocean island nation’s prison population — around 11,000 people — were awaiting trial as of October 2017 despite many only facing allegations of minor crimes.

“The miserably poor conditions of detention in which pre-trial detainees are held clearly amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment,” said Amnesty’s report titled “Punished For Being Poor”.

Amnesty International’s southern Africa director Deprose Muchena said that “a catalogue of failures in Madagascar’s criminal justice system means people are suffering in prison for years before they have their day in court”.

“In the prisons we visited, many of those being held for extended periods without trial were accused of petty, non-violent crimes….
Source: Seychelles News Agency