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: April 09, 2014

Attack Types: Imprisonment

Institution(s):University of Nouakchott

Region & Country:Western Africa | Mauritania

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On Wednesday April 9, 2014 seven students, among them the student union leaders Mouhamed Ibrahima Sarr, Bouyagui Harouna Sall, Bass Oumar, Sidi Sy, Cheikhna Diakité and Houdou Diop, were reportedly arrested and detained for 24 hours without charges after initiating a strike at the University of Nouakchott.
For several months the student unions coalition of Mauritania (including UAEM, ULEM UEN and SNEM) voiced their concerns and claims relating to alleged bad living and study conditions on campus to university authorities as well as to the government. Believing that authorities had failed to respond to their claims, students organized a demonstration before the ministry of higher education and scientific research on April 8, 2014, followed by a 2 day strike affecting three faculties. The following day, the seven students were arrested on campus by plaincothes police. They were released after 24 hours.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arbitrary detention of students engaged in the non-violent exercise of protected human rights, including freedom of expression and association. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such arrests have a chilling effect on academic freedom and undermine democratic society generally. State authorities have a responsibility to refrain from arbitrary arrests and prosecution and to hold perpetrators accountable.