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: December 13, 2012

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances | Imprisonment | Other

Institution(s):Université Félix HouphouetBoigny de Cocody

Region & Country:Western Africa | Côte d'Ivoire

New or Ongoing:New Incident

Four students were detained by an organized militia with alleged ties to the government during a student meeting that denounced poor conditions at the Université Félix Houphouët-Boigny. On December 13 students met to protest insufficient classrooms and facilities, expensive course books, and the presence of the Republican Forces of Côte d’Ivoire (FRCI) and other private forces on campus. According to reports, police disrupted the meeting and together with an organized militia (locally referred to as loubards), assaulted students.  Four students were taken to the Office of the Intelligence Services (DST) in Abidjan and held for two days before being released without charges on December 15. Reports indicate that student leaders have been threatened with expulsion if they continue to organize protests. An economics student at the university remarked on the difficult conditions on campus, “FRCI infiltrated the campus and if you speak, they’ll know it. […] So now students cannot express themselves freely.”
Scholars at Risk is concerned about violent attacks on students and occupation of campus buildings by armed forces. 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, and to ensure the perpetrators of violent attacks are held accountable.  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.
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