Student Journalist Deported After Conducting Field Research

Posted February 4, 2017

On February 3, 2017, Lorenzo Spairani, an Italian student and journalist, was detained and ultimately ordered expelled from Chile, after conducting field research and making a documentary about the country’s child services organization.

Spairani had arrived in Chile on October 28, 2016, on a grant from the European Union, to conduct research in support of his degree as a publicist. He chose to focus his work on strikes and public organizing of Chile’s National Child Service union, known as SENAME. For roughly three months, Spairani conducted field research on SENAME’s organizing activities, and ultimately produced a short documentary about the organization (which has been the subject of past controversy due to the death of a minor who was then living in SENAME housing).

On February 3, 2017, Chilean police stormed Spairani’s apartment and took him into custody, informing him that he was being expelled from the country due to “antisystemic activities” that violate the country´s order and security. Spairani was briefly detained, and later taken to the airport and deported. He was not permitted to challenge the decision in court.

Spairani’s case was, however, eventually appealed to Chile’s Supreme Court, which mandated a revocation the deportation order on the grounds that the bases for Spairani’s deportation were not sufficiently specific.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about restrictions on a scholar’s travel apparently to retaliate against or prevent nonviolent academic work. Absent evidence to the contrary, such actions suggest an intent to obstruct the exercise of the rights to academic freedom, freedom of expression, and freedom of association — conduct which is protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights. State authorities have a responsibility to protect academic freedom, freedom of expression, and freedom and association, and to refrain from imposing arbitrary restrictions on movement intended to limit these freedoms.  Such actions undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.

Sources:  [ROL: Amparo 332-2017]

In Categories: Monitoring Incidents