On January 10, 2022, police used tear gas in an effort to disperse student protesters from the Mountains of the Moon University.
The students were leading a march from campus to the central business district in a protest decrying course stoppages resulting from a faculty strike. The Independent reported that the students — numbered at as many as one thousand — held placards and chanted slogans during their march. When police intercepted them at the Fort Portal roundabout, they reportedly used tear gas to disperse them. The Independent also reported that police fired live ammunition. At least three students, including a guild president, were injured. Police arrested nine students who, according to a police spokesperson, were to be charged with “inciting violence;” they did not specify the basis for the charges.
Scholars at Risk is concerned by the use of force and arrests in response to students’ 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 and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Uganda is a party. State security forces have an obligation to respect the nonviolent exercise of such rights and to refrain from using disproportionate force in response to student protests. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, the use of force to restrict nonviolent 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).