Ban on Demonstrations in Public Universities Lifted

The government in Benin has lifted a ban on demonstrations and assemblies by student unions on the campuses of public Universities in Benin a year after the prohibition.

“Freedom of association, assembly and expression can be exercised on public university campuses in accordance with the conditions stipulated by the law,’’ a decree issued by President Patrice Talon on October 2, 2017 said.

It would be recalled that on October 4, 2016, the government prohibited any form of demonstration or assembly by students on the premises of public universities. The ban was met with a lot of criticisms from many freedom of expression and human rights organisations including the MFWA.

To enforce the ban, security forces in February 2017 used tear gas and water cannons to disperse a group of students from Université d’Abomey – Calavi who tried to hold a general assembly, even out the campus premises.

Following the prohibition, an appeal was lodged against the ban at the Constitutional Court which ruled on March 16, 2017 that the decision was anti-constitutional and void

The MFWA welcomes the restoration of students’ right to peaceful assembly on university campuses in Benin. We urge the authorities to respect this inalienable right while appealing to the students to exercise the new-found freedom with utmost responsibility.

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