Eswatini: Supporting the right to protest at a university

Salc : Anneke Meerkotter

SALC is concerned that the doctrine of common purpose is on occasion used by university councils to punish student leaders where damages of university property occurred during a student protest. SALC is also further concerned where the sanctions imposed on students who participated in a protest has the effect of denying them the right to education. Based on these concerns, SALC supported three students from the University of Swaziland who were brought before internal disciplinary proceedings, which held them liable through the doctrine of common purpose and expelled them from the university. SALC supported the judicial review of the decision of the disciplinary body. The applicants submitted that they were in effect punished for exercising their right to assemble, when they were imputed with the criminal conduct of others, without any evidence being led that the applicants had collaborated in the decision of some of the protesters to damage property. The applicants further submitted that the sanctions imposed on them were disproportionate. The judgment handed down on 18 December 2018 dismissed the application for judicial review and held that there was no evidence that the disciplinary body had acted contrary to its Regulations during the disciplinary proceedings.