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: August 02, 2021

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):University of Liberia

Region & Country:Western Africa | Liberia

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On August 2, 2021, police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at students participating in a protest at University of Liberia (UL).

UL students held the protest to call for the resumption of regular in-person classes and the cancellation of an online learning program established in response to COVID-19. Students claimed that the program was difficult for them to access and that classes has not been held consistently by faculty. During the protest, students reportedly blocked the entrance to the main campus building. Riot police reportedly fired tear gas and rubber bullets in an apparent attempt to disperse the students. Police also reportedly beat students, kicking and punching them. At least ten students were injured, including two who were shot in the head by rubber bullets. UL suspended all classes indefinitely. 

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the use of police violence in response to the nonviolent exercise of the right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly — conduct that is protected by international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Liberia is a party. State authorities have an obligation to ensure the security of higher education communities and to refrain from violent or disproportionate actions in response to campus protests. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such actions undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally. 

*SAR identified this incident in data made publicly available by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED).