On February 22, 2021, police fired tear gas and shot live ammunition at students protesting the release of a professor and a student who had been kidnapped in separate incidents.
Students from the University of Port-au-Prince (UP) and the University of Haiti (UeH) were protesting for the release of UP professor Abbias Édumé and UeH student Albert Junior Augusma, both of whom were kidnapped by unknown individuals days earlier. There does not appear to be a relationship between Édumé and Agusuma. Students gathered in the streets of Port-au-Prince, including near UP’s campus where they erected barricades made of chairs, desks, and rocks, blocking traffic.
In response, the National Police of Haiti arrived to disperse the protesters. One source reported that some of the protesters threw rocks at police. Police eventually fired tear gas to remove the protesters from the street. Two sources reported that police also fired live ammunition, injuring a UP student.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about violent clashes between police and students and the use of live ammunition 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, refraining from physical violence. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, violence and the use of force during protests 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).