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Sierra Leone: One dead, two seriously injured as security forces open fire on protesting students

    March 23, 2017

    The security forces killed one person and seriously injured at least two others as they opened fire on protesting students in the city of Bo today, Amnesty International said.

    “This bloodshed and loss of young life is a tragedy and suggests a heavy handed response by the security forces to a student protest,” said Sabrina Mahtani, Amnesty International West Africa researcher.

    “We urge the police to refrain from committing human rights violations and instead allow the students to safely exercise their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.”

    “The authorities must conduct an independent investigation to shed light on the circumstances of this killing and all injuries and, if there is sufficient evidence, ensure accountability through fair trials.”

    Students of Njala University, near the city of Bo, started protesting on Thursday morning against a long-running lecturers' strike which has left their college closed since October 2016. Lecturers have been on strike due to non-payment of salaries by the government. Police say that students did not obtain a permit for the protest today, were burning tires and blocking major roads.

    Protests also happened in the capital, Freetown. Students were forcefully dispersed by police firing teargas at them while they were converging in front of the President’s house in Freetown chanting for the reopening of their university. Over 10 students have been arrested in Freetown and several in Bo.