On June 24, 2019, authorities fired live ammunition at students at the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH) during a campus protest, injuring at least five.
Hundreds of UNAH students had gathered on campus to demand the resignation of President Juan Orlando Hernandez, in response to government proposals to restructure the country’s health and education systems. 40 military police reportedly entered the campus, without authorization from the university, and fired tear gas at students. Students reportedly responded by throwing stones at the police, who then reportedly chased the students, firing live ammunition at them. At least five students were injured by the gunfire. The National Interagency Security Force (FUSINA) alleged, in a statement, that students had thrown modifiedMolotov cocktails during the protest, injuring two officers.
UNAH reportedly indefinitely suspended academic activity and asked the Public Prosecutor to investigate the use of force.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the unauthorized entry by troops onto campus, and the use of force against students to restrict campus 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 Honduras is a party. State authorities have a responsibility to refrain from the use of force to restrict or retaliate against peaceful expressive activity. Likewise, while students have the right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, they have an obligation to refrain from physical violence. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such incidents undermine freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, institutional autonomy, academic freedom, and democratic society generally.