Malagasy’s new legislation must enforce communities right to FPIC, and right to say no
SOUTHERN AFRICAN CAMPAIGN TO DISMANTLE CORPORATE POWER
30 June 2020
The Southern African Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power – a network of popular movements fighting corporate impunity in Southern Africa – is highly preoccupied by the fact that, despite legislative reforms happening in Madagascar, the Mining code and the MECIE decree continues to neglect communities fundamental rights. Those rights are their right to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) and what we call the communities’ right to say no. The right to FPIC being a procedural standard recognized in international law, and the right to say no a call for communities’ consent to never be overruled.
Until now, none of the Mining Code or the MERCIE decree recognizes any of those communities’ rights. The Mining code does not mention any right to consent while the MECIE decree only allows population, in some conditions, to be informed of the existence of a development project and to be consulted; the procedure is defaulting, communities consent is never required.
Those two legal sources are currently under revision, giving the legislator an opportunity to align Malagasy’s laws with international standards and being respectful to communities choices. But civil societies organisations (CSO) shows concerns regarding the revising process; the lack of transparency from government reminds the previous failure of the mining code revised project. In 2017, alarmed investors ultimately forced the government to leave out mining code changes.
What are the consequences for affected communities when those rights aren’t respected? The case of Base Toliara illustrates how transnational corporations (TNC) take advantage of this situation. In Toliara, a coastal city in the south-western part of Madagascar, the Australian TNC Base Resources plans to open a controversial sand mine: Base Toliara. Indeed, Base Toliara will force ancestral lands and tombs to be relocated, expose minors and locals to high level of radioactivity, devastate one of the most ecologically diverse parts of the country and threatens the survival of an indigenous group – the Mikea people – who depend on the forest to survive.
To reject that project, the affected communities’, together with the CSO CRAAD-OI, organised pre-emptive actions at the local, national and international level, while legal actions were also taken. In November 2019, they finally obtained a ministry decision to suspend activities, but that was not long before Base Resources started an aggressive communication campaign where it was reported that some community members have been paid to declare themselves in favour of Base Toliara. Despite the controversies, the project is still expected to start soon.
We have reported numerous cases of such corporate violations in Southern Africa. Foreign TNC’s overrule Southern African communities while systematically remaining unpunished.
To end corporate impunity in the region, we urge for the legal recognition
of communities right to FPIC, and push for communities’ right to say no against
extractive projects. The Malagasy’s legislators now have the opportunity to
revise their current legislation, in accordance with the communities’ interest,
and international legal standards.
 « Décret sur la Mise en compatibilité des investissements à l’environnement »
 In regard to the Declaration on the right to development and to the agreed legal standards of FPIC