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: August 13, 2015

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances | Imprisonment | Prosecution | Travel Restrictions

Institution(s):Universidad San Francisco de Quito

Region & Country:Americas | Ecuador

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On August 13, 2015, Manuela Picq, a Franco-Brazilian journalist and scholar of gender, ethnicity, politics and indigenous issues, was reportedly arrested, beaten and detained by police in connection with her presence at a peaceful protest in the capital city of Quito. Following her arrest, her cultural exchange visa was revoked.
At the time of her arrest, Dr. Picq had been living in Quito for eight years, working as a professor in the Department of International Relations at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito.  She reportedly accompanied her husband, Carlos Pérez, an Ecuadorian lawyer and indigenous movement activist, to the protest, which was organized by the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE).   Professor Picq has stated that she attended the protest as part of her field research on social movements.  She was reportedly surrounded by police, beaten with batons, dragged away from the protest and taken into custody. She was later taken to the Hospital Eugenio Espejo and later moved to a second hospital.  Dr. Picq reportedly sustained baton wounds to her head and face.  Pérez was also reportedly arrested.
On August 14, Dr. Picq was notified that her cultural exchange visa, which had been scheduled to expire August 28, had been canceled. However, at a deportation hearing the following Monday, a court found no basis for Dr. Picq’s deportation and ordered an investigation into her arrest and the revocation of her visa. That evening, Dr. Picq was released after more than 90 hours of detention.
On August 19, however, a second judge refused Dr. Picq’s request to annul the revocation of her visa. In a televised statement, Ecuador’s Minister of Foreign Affairs accused Dr. Picq of participation in political activities, which he stated is prohibited for recipients of cultural exchange visas.  Although she was not deported, the revocation of her visa left her without legal residency in Ecuador.  Dr. Picq departed Ecuador for Brazil on Friday, August 21.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arrest, beating, detention and revocation of legal immigration status of a professor, apparently in retaliation for the exercise of the rights to nonviolent expression and association, as well as academic freedom, conduct which is protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. State authorities have a responsibility to protect academic freedom, freedom of expression and association, and to refrain from imposing arbitrary restrictions on movement or improper arrest intended to limit these freedoms. Such actions undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.