On March 20, 2023, police shot and killed one student during a demonstration at Maseno University (MU).
On March 20, opposition leader Raila Odinga called for weekly demonstrations over the rising cost of living in the country. Students gathered on the MU campus as part of the nationwide demonstrations, and reportedly blocked a main road near the campus. It is unclear what sparked the clashes between police and students, but reports indicate that students threw stones at police while police fired tear gas and – after they exhausted their supply of tear gas – live bullets at the students.
William Mayange, a third year student, was shot in the neck. He was rushed to the hospital and pronounced dead shortly after arriving. Several other students sustained injuries.
Scholars at Risk is gravely concerned about the use of lethal force during student protests. SAR offers condolences to the family and colleagues of the deceased student. While state authorities have a responsibility to maintain order and security, they also have an obligation to ensure that their actions are proportionate to the situation. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, violence during protests undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.