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: September 12, 2022

Attack Types: Imprisonment | Prosecution

Institution(s):University of Zimbabwe

Region & Country:Eastern Africa | Zimbabwe

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On September 12, 2022, police arrested at least 14 students for participating in a nonviolent protest on the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) campus. The students, who police charged with “disorderly conduct,” were protesting the announcement of tuition fee increases.

According to reports, student protesters disrupted the normal business of the university. In a video posted to Twitter, students are seen crowding hallways and chanting.

According to Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, at least three students were assaulted and injured while in police custody; however, SAR has not obtained additional independent sources to corroborate this.

12 students were released on September 13 after paying fines and the 2 remaining students were released on bail on September 14. That same day, five more students were arrested apparently for related protest activities, though it is not clear whether the arrests stemmed from the September 12 protest.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arbitrary arrest of students for the nonviolent exercise of their 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 Zimbabwe is a party — as well as reports that police assaulted students in their custody. State authorities must refrain from arresting students for nonviolent exercise of such rights. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, arbitrary arrests of students exercising their right to protest on campus 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) 59.html