On January 27, 2019, police violently clashed with University of Lubumbashi students, killing at least three students and injuring others.
The students were reportedly protesting electricity and gas shutoffs in the region that affected their campus as well as university student fees.
Sources indicate that as the students returned from protesting in front of the governor’s residence, police on the scene threw tear gas and used violent force against the students. Police reportedly opened fire on the students. At least three students were killed during the clashes, along with a police officer was struck by a police vehicle. Government officials have reportedly announced an investigation into the police officer who ordered the use of live ammunition.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the use of lethal force against students in order to restrict student expression — 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 Congo is a party. State authorities have a responsibility to refrain from the use of force to restrict or retaliate against peaceful expressive activity. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such incidents undermine freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, academic freedom, and democratic society generally.