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 04, 2020

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):University of Nairobi

Region & Country:Eastern Africa | Kenya

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On March 4, 2020, security officials at the University of Nairobi (UoN) reportedly arrested and beat to death a student under circumstances that remain unclear as of this report.

According to eyewitness reports, Elisha Otieno Odeng, a suspended UoN student, was stopped near student housing by a private security guard and arrested for reasons that have not been reported. Campus security reportedly claimed that they were taking Odeng to the Central Police Station in Nairobi. However, witnesses told police that security officers restrained and beat Odeng, before dragging him to Nairobi’s Central Park, where they left him. He was found sometime later, and taken to the hospital, where he died. A coroner’s report later showed the causes of death to be blunt force trauma to the head and strangulation.

On March 12, a campus security guard was arrested in connection with the killing.

Scholars at Risk is gravely concerned about the targeted killing of a university student by campus security, and sends condolences to the family and friends of the victim, and the entire university community. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such incidents chill academic freedom, and harm democratic society generally. State and university authorities have a responsibility to investigate such incidents, hold perpetrators accountable, and take all available measures to ensure a safe, open, and free university space.