On December 1, 2022, police clashed with and reportedly opened fire on students protesting on the University of Kisangani campus.
The students were demanding an adjustment to the academic calendar to make more time to prepare for final exams, as some courses had not finished due to a personnel strike. Sources indicate that students carried out part of their protest in an administrative building and might have occupied it, but no violent activity was reported.
At one point during the December 1 protest, clashes broke out when police attempted to disperse the students. Police reportedly opened fire during their response (sources did not describe the type(s) of round(s) used), while some students reportedly threw stones. At least six students were injured, including two students who were reportedly struck by the officers’ rounds and were subsequently taken to a hospital. Police reported injuries to six officers.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about police using force, especially reports of officers opening fire, in their response to a nonviolent campus protest. While state security forces have a right to maintain safety and order, they also have a responsibility to exercise constraint, refrain from excessive force, and ensure that their actions do not restrict or punish nonviolent 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 ensure that they exercise such rights peacefully and responsibly. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, the use of force in response to nonviolent campus protests undermines academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and democratic society generally.
*SAR identified this incident in data made publicly available by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED)