On April 12, 2022, an officer killed a student, as well as a fellow officer, during a police response to a student protest in Mbandaka.
Students from the University of Mbandaka gathered to protest an increase in registration fees. At one point, a dispute broke out between students and police. An officer chasing one student who ran from the scene reportedly fired his weapon, striking the student and a fellow officer. The same officer then reportedly rushed to the aforementioned student and shot her in the chest, killing her. The officer who was inadvertently struck was also killed.
Students then reportedly brought the deceased student’s body to a municipal office and protested the police response. Some students reportedly set fire to a municipal building.
Scholars at Risk is concerned by police using lethal force against and killing a student during a protest, and offers condolences to the student’s family, classmates, and friends. While state security forces have a responsibility to maintain order and security, they also have an obligation to refrain from the use of disproportionate force and to respect students’ peaceful exercise of the 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 the Democratic Republic of Congo is a party. Students are also reminded to refrain from engaging in physical violence when exercising such rights. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, the use of lethal or disproportionate force in response to nonviolent student 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)