SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: November 21, 2012

Attack Types: Imprisonment

Institution(s):University of Kara

Region & Country:Western Africa | Togo

New or Ongoing:Ongoing Incident

The University of Kara has experienced continued unrest following the expulsion of 24 student leaders in September. University classes resumed on November 19, and on November 21 four student leaders, including the president of the National Union of Pupils and Students of Togo (UNEET), were arrested. The students were held for several days without food. Police also allegedly conducted an illegal search at the home of the sister of one of the students. The students were arrested for the offense of “distributing pamphlets” on campus; however it is believed the students were actually arrested because they were trying to mobilize their peers to demonstrate on campus and demand the reinstatement of their expelled colleagues. Three of the four students were released on November 23 with no charges filed against them. One student remains in custody for allegedly assaulting a fellow student, though no charges have been filed. 
UPDATE February 20, 2012: It is reported that the fourth student was released on December 7, 2012 without charge.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the detention of students apparently for nonviolent expressive activity.  Students and other members of higher education communities have the right to engage peacefully in expressive activity, including protests.  State and university authorities have a responsibility to protect students engaged in such peaceful activity.  When state and university authorities are required to intervene in student protests to maintain order or security, they have a responsibility to do so in a way that respects institutional autonomy, academic freedom and human rights, including by refraining from excessive force or abusive legal process or detention. 
Sources: [French] [French] [French] [French] [French] [French] [French] [French]
UPDATE: This is an update to an earlier report. To view, please click here.