On October 13, 2020, police fired tear gas at students of the National Institute for the Training of Health Professionals (INFAS) protesting to demand the payment of their scholarships, resulting in the arrest of 24 students.
Students organized a protest to demand the payment of ten months’ scholarship payments that the INFAS administration did not disburse, as well as to make calls for other demands relating to internship compensation and the system of degrees awarded to students.
Students left campus early in the morning and marched to the front of a teaching hospital (“centre hospitalier universitaire”) in Bouaké to protest. Reports do not indicate that protesters were violent. Police deployed to the protest fired tear gas and detained 24 students. The students were released the next day.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about police using force and detaining students for the nonviolent exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly — conduct that is protected by international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Instruments and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Côte d’Ivoire is a party. While state authorities have a right to maintain public order and safety, they should refrain from the use of force and ensure that their response is proportionate to the situation and does not result in harm to students or other protesters. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, the use of force and arrests, especially when intended to restrict student expression, undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.
*SAR identified this incident in data made publicly available by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED).