On January 27, 2014, Zimbabwean authorities arrested 11 student leaders in apparent retaliation for non-violent protests held at Harare Polytehcnic Institute, against deteriorating academic standards, as well as rules barring students with outstanding fees from attending classes. The students were briefly detained, and were later charged under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, Chapter 9:23 Section 37: “Participating in gathering with intent to promote public violence, breaches of the peace or bigotry.”
On May 14, 2014, the student leaders were reportedly acquitted of the charges against them.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arrest and prosecution of students for nonviolent, expressive activity on campus. State authorities have a responsibility not to interfere with students’ expressive activity, so long as that activity is undertaken peacefully and responsibly. Prosecution aimed at limiting such expressive activity undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.