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: September 20, 2021

Attack Types: Imprisonment | Prosecution

Institution(s):Belvedere Technical Teachers’ College

Region & Country:Eastern Africa | Zimbabwe

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On September 20, 2021, police arrested ten students during a protest in front of Belvedere Technical Teachers’ College (BTTC).

Students gathered in front of the BTTC campus to protest the BTTC administration’s decision to raise tuition fees and prohibit students who didn’t pay tuition from entering the campus. Students were reportedly singing and holding posters in front of the main gates of the campus, when police confronted them, arresting ten students on disorderly conduct charges. The ten students are Walter Muzami, Julia Munyanyi, Lavender Makoni, Tracy Ngomambi, Stephen Mariwo, Blessing Nyamarowa, Talent Madzivanyika, Tariro Chineganda, Nokhuthula Zengeni, and Nqobizitha Masuku. Police brought the students to the Harare Central Police Station.

On September 21, the students were released on bail of 5,000 ZWL ($15.53 USD) each, on the condition that they report every two weeks to the Harare Central Police Station. Their next hearing is scheduled for November 30.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arbitrary detention and prosecution of students peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly — conduct that is expressly protected by international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Zimbabwe is a party. State authorities have an obligation to refrain from restricting or retaliating against the exercise of the right to free expression and association, so long as it is peaceful and responsible. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, detentions and prosecution in response to peaceful student expression undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.