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: October 22, 2018

Attack Types: Other

Institution(s):Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology

Region & Country:Western Africa | Ghana

New or Ongoing:Ongoing Incident

On October 22, 2018, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) students reportedly destroyed campus property during a protest.

KNUST students were protesting an October 19 incident, during which campus security used violent force against and detained students during a peaceful demonstration. The October 22 demonstration reportedly began peacefully until some students reportedly began destroying campus property. Students reportedly burnt tires on the streets and destroyed vehicles, while other students marched to student residence halls to prevent their classmates from attending class. Police officers and soldiers arrived on campus and reportedly fired gunshots in the air in an effort to disperse the students. Police reportedly arrested 18 students in connection with the violence.

In response to the protest, KNUST administration and the Ashanti Regional Security Council ordered the university closed indefinitely. KNUST students, with the exception of international students, were ordered to vacate campus the following morning.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the destruction of campus property and use of firearms by police during a campus protest. While state and university authorities have a legitimate interest in maintaining order, they must do so in ways that are proportional to the situation, minimize the risk of physical injury, and otherwise respect institutional autonomy, academic freedom, and other applicable human rights standards. Likewise, while students have a right to protest and otherwise engage in on-campus expression, that does not include violence or destruction of property. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such incidents undermine academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and democratic society generally.

UPDATE: KNUST reportedly reopened on November 16 and lectures resumed on November 19.