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: October 03, 2019

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Distrital University

Region & Country:Americas | Colombia

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On October 3, 2019, at Distrital University in Bogota, and Mobile Anti-Disturbance Squadron (ESMAD) fired tear gas at student protesters, causing two students at a nearby school to faint.

University students gathered at noon in front of the campus to protest reported incidents of corruption at Distrital University and to encourage authorities to hasten their investigations of these incidents.

The gathering escalated into a riot, resulting in clashes between ESMAD officers and students. Roads near the university were closed. ESMAD officers fired tear gas at the university students, and two students from a nearby school are reported to have fainted as a result of tear gas inhalation.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about violence during a campus protest. While students and civil society have a right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, they have an obligation to exercise those rights peacefully and responsibly. State authorities are likewise obligated to ensure the security of higher education communities and to refrain from violent or disproportionate actions that endanger members of the higher education community. Such violence threatens academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and democratic society in general.