Wednesday , 6 July 2022
The ruling power in Madagascar definitely has the web in sight. It is blamed for having allegedly fueled a poor portrayal of the transitional ruling power and ultimately contributed to spoil its conquest of international acknowledgement. News websites, blogs, forums and social networks are from now on summoned to mind their words. In order to dodge the expected accusations of will to take on freedom of speech online, the Kolo government's justice minister denied any personal involvement in the issue of the particularly harsh terms of the law against computer crime.

Internet: Madagascans watching their freedom of expression winding back

The law draft did not stir any noticeable interest from reporters while it was being passed by the Parliament on June 19th. It definitely did however when it entered the seminar on the draft of the Communication Code, in which the opinion fully realized the scope of the issue. Pending jail times ranging from no less than 6 months to 10 years, fines as high as some Ar 100 millions are actually not only targeting sexual criminals, rogue hackers and crooks. They considerably threaten whoever intends to express points online, which might tarnish or embarrass the likes of major political figures.
“This law was drafted back in 2013, when there was no elected parliament yet” pleaded the current justice minister.
 By so doing, Noeliine Ramanantenasoa carefully washes her hands as well as those of the Rajaonarimampianina government from the matter. She justified the issue of this law which tries to govern digital rules of engagement as the earliest way to bridge the legal vacuum left behind the outstanding quick progress of information technology. Although this law is suited to sanctioning the publication of indecent articles, snapshots and cartoons, the President of the Republic has just committed himself into a short term court dispute sitcom with reporters. “Laws are not static by definition. When the Code of Communication will finally be agreed on, you (namely the journalists) will be allowed by rights to require both contents to be overlapped.” Prison sentences for libels could potentially be on their way out.
As a matter of fact, this law which demonizes the internet was brought to life by the Rajoelina ruling power, which did suffer more than anyone else online. The single transitional leader did get the full dressing down by then: slandering, parodies, cartoons… Everything that developed online would have considerably affected his statute of chief of state. Bearing in mind that this action used to be undertaken by simple citizens living abroad by a large majority, legal prosecutions might have been vastly more complicated. Only the internet service providers could have eventually been sanctioned to a certain extent, notwithstandiing the rules of engagement issued by the International Union for Telecommunication.
The freedom of expression online may not expect to be granter larger margin by the upcoming Code of Communication whatsoever. Online reporters will be denied professional cards, the privilege previously entitled either to a big size advertisement company, or to an anti opposition blog supportive of the transitional ruling power. Websites unwilling to comply with the ruling power’s rules will have to be hosted in the United States or in Europe! Still, law makers and their “sunshine law” do not openly pressure the Internet Service Providers to enforce a technical self censorship yet. They’d better keep away from it, for the number of internet users keep growing too.