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: October 02, 2020

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):École Normale Supérieure

Region & Country:Americas | Haiti

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On October 2, 2020, police reportedly used violent force against students participating in a protest at École Normale Supérieure killing one student.

Students from École Normale Supérieure, a faculty within the University of Haiti, gathered on campus on October 2 to protest educational policy issues. Reports indicate that police officers guarding the National Palace, located across from the campus, fired tear gas at the student protesters. One  student, Grégory Saint-Hilaire, was shot in the back; students transported him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Eyewitnesses alleged that a palace guard had shot Saint-Hilaire in the back, although police authorities have denied the allegation.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the use of lethal force during a student protest. While state authorities have a responsibility to maintain order and security, they also have an obligation to ensure that their actions are proportionate to the situation, do not endanger protesters, and are not undertaken to restrict nonviolent expressive activity. Students likewise have a responsibility to carry out expressive activities peacefully and responsibly. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, the use of violent force during protests undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.