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: March 14, 2019

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):University of Education Winneba

Region & Country:Western Africa | Ghana

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On March 14, 2019, police clashed violently with student protesters during demonstrations at the University of Education Winneba (UEW).

Since March 12, students at UEW had been holding protests over the dismissal of three university lecturers. Supporters of the lecturers alleged that they were dismissed for publicly disagreeing with the UEW administration. Protesters have reportedly destroyed campus property.

On the March 14 protest, students marched on campus chanting “bring back our lecturers.” Police reportedly fired warning shots and shot tear gas into campus buildings while classes were taking place. Police also reportedly fired tear gas into bushes where student protesters were taking cover. Students reportedly threw stones at police. At least 10 people including students and others were reportedly injured. Following the protest, the UEW administration reportedly indefinitely closed down the campus.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about violence during a student protest. While state authorities have a right to maintain security and order on campus, they must do so in ways that minimize the risk of death, injury, or harm to individuals and that respect institutional autonomy and human rights. Likewise, while students have the right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, they have an obligation to refrain from physical violence and to respect institutional autonomy. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such use of violent force undermines institutional autonomy and democratic society generally.

UPDATE:  On April 3, the administration reinstated the three professors, and on April 8, reopened the university.