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: June 18, 2023

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances | Other

Institution(s):Universite Pedagogique du Congo

Region & Country:Central Africa | Congo (DRC-Kinshasa)

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On July 18, 2023, student protesters damaged buildings and infrastructure associated with the Universite Pedagogique du Congo (UPN) in Kinshasa. Police used tear gas to disperse the demonstrators.

The students were demonstrating the university’s new requirements that the students pay academic fees in US dollars and UPN’s decision to bar 10 faculty delegates, the elected representatives of the student body, from representing their peers for a period of six months.

The demonstration turned violent, with students damaging UPN’s bus, vehicles belonging to two teachers, and several UPN buildings. Police responded to the demonstration by using tear gas to disperse the student protesters.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the use of violence in the course of a student protest. While students have the right to publicly assemble and express themselves on and off campus, such actions must be conducted peacefully and responsibly. Likewise, while state authorities have the right to take reasonable measures to ensure order, they must also exercise restraint and refrain from disproportionate actions, actions that may result in unnecessary harm, and or actions which encroach on the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly – conduct which 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. Violence in the course of an on-campus protest, coming from any source, undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.

Sources:
*SAR identified this incident in data made publicly available by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED)
https://www.mediacongo.net/article-actualite-124633_hausse_des_frais_academiques_le_calme_revient_a_l_universite_pedagogique_nationale.html
https://www.mediacongo.net/article-actualite-124623_tension_a_l_upn_des_etudiants_manifestent_contre_la_decision_du_comite_de_gestion_les_obligeant_a_payer_les_frais_academiques_en_dollars.html
https://7sur7.cd/2023/07/18/upn-les-activites-academiques-paralysees-suite-la-manifestation-de-protestation-des
https://acp.cd/nation/kinshasa-des-degats-materiels-et-des-blesses-apres-des-echauffourees-dans-une-universite/
https://linterview.cd/protestation-etudiante-a-kinshasa-lupn-confrontee-a-des-actes-de-vandalisme-lors-dune-manifestation-contre-les-frais-academiques/