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: July 26, 2022

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):University of Liberia

Region & Country:Western Africa | Liberia

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On July 26, 2022, members of the Congress for Democratic Change Council of Patriots (CDC-COP), a pro government group, assaulted members of the Students Unification Party (SUP) from the University of Liberia during a nonviolent protest in front of the United States Embassy.

SUP members protested against the high cost of living when the CDC-COP members stormed their protest, causing many SUP members to flee. CDC-COP members surrounded and beat students, including Christopher Walter Sisulu Sivili, who was hospitalized for his injuries. According to Front Page Africa, a few students went missing after the attack, including Jack Gbassana, whose picture reportedly surfaced on social media, showing him tied up and gagged.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about a violent attack on students in apparent retaliation for their nonviolent exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, freedom of association, 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 Liberia is a party. State and university authorities have a responsibility to prevent and respond to such attacks, including by investigating and holding perpetrators accountable. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such violent attacks against students undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.