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: October 25, 2022

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Sapienza University of Rome

Region & Country:Europe | Italy

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On October 25, 2022, police attacked peaceful student protesters outside a conference held at the Sapienza University of Rome. The students were protesting against the conference, which was organized by Azione Universitaria (AU), a far-right student organization, and featured members from Brothers of Italy (FdI), the country’s ruling party.

Approximately 50 students attended the protest, which was held outside the university’s Department of Political Science, where the conference was taking place. When the protesters advanced on the building, the police hit students with batons to prevent them from entering.

In a statement, the university rector condemned the violence at the protest, stating that Sapienza University supports the free expression of opinions and ideas.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the use of violence against students nonviolently exercising their right 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 Italy is a party. State authorities have an obligation to refrain from restricting the nonviolent exercise of these rights. The use of violence at a peaceful student protest 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)