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: November 16, 2023

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Université Félix Houphouët-Boigny

Region & Country:Western Africa | Côte d'Ivoire

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On November 16, 2023, police fired teargas to disperse students protesting at an event held by Côte d’Ivoire’s Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Adama Diawara at the Université Félix Houphouët-Boigny.

Minister Diawara organized an on-campus conference with university leaders to promote the implementation of a new law on higher education and scientific research, which was passed by the Côte d’Ivoire parliament on May 22, 2023. During the event, some students protested the legislation, throwing stones at the building. Police fired teargas to disperse them.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the use of teargas to disperse students exercising their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly on campus — 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 Côte d’Ivoire is a party. While state security forces have a responsibility to maintain order and security, they must also exercise restraint, refrain from disproportionate force. Likewise, while students have the right to publicly assemble and express themselves on and off campus, such actions must be conducted peacefully and responsibly. Disproportionate responses to on-campus protests may unnecessarily elevate tensions and the risk of violence, and undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.

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