On November 15, 2018, one student was killed and others injured when police reportedly opened fire on students protesting at the University of Kinshasa.
The students’ protest was in response to news that a classmate, Hyacinthe Kimbafu, had died from a police gunshot wound suffered during a protest on November 12 (see report). Sources indicate that students gathered in front of the hospital where Mr. Kimbafu had died and protested the police response.
While the protest was reported as largely peaceful, a subgroup of protesters that allegedly included non-students destroyed campus property. In response, police on the scene fired tear gas and live ammunition at the students. Undergraduate student Rodrigue Eliwo was killed during the gunfire while several others were injured.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the use of lethal force and detentions by police in order to restrict students peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly—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 the Democratic Republic of the Congo is a party. While state authorities have a right to maintain order and security, they must do so in a manner that is proportional to the situation, respects institutional autonomy, and does not restrict nonviolent expression or assembly. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, the use of violent force against student protesters undermines freedom of expression, institutional autonomy, academic freedom, and democratic society generally.