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: January 12, 2018

Attack Types: Loss of Position

Institution(s):Talca University

Region & Country:Americas | Chile

New or Ongoing:New Incident

In January 2018, Roberto Pizarro, a Professor of Engineering at the University of Talca, was reportedly subjected to an administrative investigation, after he publicly criticized the institution.

In December 2017, Professor Pizarro wrote an article criticizing the university’s policies with respect to the appointment of rectors, which left a single rector in power for 28 consecutive years. In a letter to a local newspaper and an interview, Pizarro argued that the university should take measures to ensure that its leadership alternate, and to avoid such entrenched power. In response, the University commenced an internal investigation against Professor Pizarro, alleging that he publicly and repeatedly damaged the prestige of the institution, allegedly in violation of university disciplinary rules. The administrative investigation is confidential until and unless formal charges are filled.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about administrative investigations against scholars based on the nonviolent exercise of the rights to academic freedom and freedom of expression — 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, to which Chile is a party. State and university authorities have a responsibility not to interfere with such rights. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such actions have a chilling effect on academic freedom and due process, and undermine democratic society generally.