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: May 25, 2021

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances | Imprisonment

Institution(s):Maasai Mara University

Region & Country:Eastern Africa | Kenya

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On May 25, 2021, police fired teargas at Maasai Mara University (MMU) students protesting after a student was killed in a road accident. Police went on to arrest five of the students. 

On May 24, a first-year MMU student was killed in a road accident while riding on the back of a boda boda, a motorbike taxi, when the driver attempted to pass a large truck on the highway and slipped.

On May 25, students gathered outside of the university to protest reckless driving by boda boda drivers. Police responded after the students moved their protest onto a busy road in front of campus. According to reports, police fired tear gas canisters at the students to move them off of the road and back onto campus. In a video interview, students stated that they were there to protest peacefully. 

Police arrested five of the protesting students. Among them were the student body President Humphrey Omollo and Secretary-General Denis Wanjala Matongolo.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the use of force and detention of students by police, in response to 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 Kenya 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).