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: February 06, 2023

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Université Publique du bas-Artibonite à Saint-Marc

Region & Country:Americas | Haiti

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On February 6, 2023, unidentified armed individuals abducted Wilfrid Azarre, the rector of the Université Publique du bas-Artibonite à Saint-Marc (UPBAS), his daughter, and an administrative employee. They were riding a bus when the kidnappers ordered the other riders to get off and abducted them.

There is no further information on the perpetrators and circumstances of the abduction, but reports suggest that gangs are likely behind the abduction. A growing number of professionals, including academics, have been the targets of kidnappings in recent years in Haiti.

On February 7, the Rectorate of the State University of Haiti released a statement denouncing the kidnapping and called for their unconditional release.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the kidnapping of university employees and their family members. State authorities should take all reasonable steps to ensure the safety of scholars, students, and staff, including by investigating and holding perpetrators of such acts responsible, in line with international human rights standards. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, kidnappings targeting members of the higher education community undermine the conditions needed for the meaningful exercise of the right to education and academic freedom.

*SAR identified this incident in data made publicly available by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED)