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: September 24, 2018

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Machakos University

Region & Country:Eastern Africa | Kenya

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On September 24, 2018, Kenyan police fired tear gas at Machakos University students protesting at the campus’s main entrance.

Students at Machakos University had been protesting rising tuition fees, alleged administrative mismanagement, and alleged student election irregularities. At the September 24 protest, students gathered on campus and blocked Machakos-Wote road, which leads to the university’s main entrance. Police reportedly fired bullets in the air and fired tear gas at students in order to disperse them.

On September 26, after continuing protests on campus, the university reportedly ordered the campus closed indefinitely in connection with the protest activities. It is unclear when the campus reopened.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the use of force during a nonviolent student protest — conduct that is expressly protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Kenya is a party. While state authorities have a responsibility to maintain order and security, they must ensure that their actions are proportionate to the situation and do not cause harm to members of the campus community. The use of force during student protests undermines academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and democratic society generally.