Madagascar: ITUC demands release of Zotiakobanjinina Fanja Marcel Sento

The ITUC denounces the arrest and imprisonment of Zotiakobanjinina Fanja Marcel Sento, a trade union leader in Madagascar.

He was sentenced to 12 months in prison with a fine of US$92 (MGA400,000), an amount that represents approximately 75 per cent of the average monthly salary in Madagascar, for a social media post. The ITUC continues to demand his unconditional release.

Mr Sento was elected as a trade union representative on 16 June 2022 on behalf of workers in the textile company E-TOILE.S.A. – a subsidiary of the European group ALSICO.

As part of his union activities, Mr Sento published the outcomes of four meetings held with the management of the company in June and July on his Facebook account.

On 28 August 2022, Mr Sento was taken to a detention centre for “publishing his views without the authority of the company”.

In a letter to the Prime Minster of Madagascar, Christian Louis Ntsay, the ITUC demanded the release of Mr Sento. However, the government merely reduced his sentence from 12 to 8 months in prison. The ITUC condemns such criminalisation of collective bargaining discussions.

Trade union rights

ITUC President Akiko Gono said: “The arrest and detention of Mr. Sento for exercising his trade union rights is contrary to Madagascar’s obligations under ILO Convention 87 and the principles of freedom of association of the ILO. He must be released immediately and all charges dropped.

“Freedom of opinion and expression and, in particular, the right not to be penalised for one’s opinions is an essential corollary of freedom of association.

“Workers, employers and their representatives should enjoy freedom of opinion and expression in their meetings, publications and in the course of their trade union activities. This includes social communication.

“This is a fundamental element of freedom of association and the authorities should abstain from unduly impeding its lawful exercise and should fully guarantee this freedom in general.

“The global trade union movement demands this and the release of Mr Sento.”