On October 14, 2019, police reportedly clashed with students holding a protest at Inca Garcilaso de la Vega University (UIGV) over institutional mismanagement.
Beginning in 2016, Peru’s National Superintendence of Higher University Education (SUNEDU) undertook a review process of public and private universities’ compliance with Basic Quality Conditions (CBC), established under national university law. As a result of the review, 45 universities in the country (44 private and 1 public) were not granted institutional licenses for failing to show compliance with SUNEDU’s guidelines.
On October 10, 2019, UIGV was denied its license after having reportedly failed to address institutional deficiencies relating to staffing, study plans, infrastructure, and financial stability, among other issues. The SUNEDU decision dovetailed complaints lodged against UIGV rector, Luis Cervantes Liñán, who was suspended from his position for allegedly misusing university assets. In response to these developments, UIGV students carried out a series of sit-ins and protests to demand that administrative authorities responsible for SUNEDU’s ruling resign and that the university be given the opportunity to meet the basic CBC requirements under new leadership.
On the morning of October 14, university students organized a protest outside UIGV’s Faculty of Systems Engineering. The protest coincided with a General Assembly of Associates meeting to appoint a new board of directors. Sources indicate that students attempting to make their way to the General Assembly were confronted by police and, at one point, clashes broke out. According to news reports and video footage purportedly taken at the scene, police used batons and riot shields against student protesters. One officer reportedly kicked an incapacitated protester, who was later taken to the hospital.
Following the clashes, university classes were suspended for the rest of the day. Peaceful protests involving students, family members, and university staff occurred later in the day at the Faculty of Law.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the use of violence against students apparently intended to restrict the nonviolent exercise of the rights to freedom expression and freedom of assembly—conduct that is expressly protected by international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Peru is a party. State authorities have a responsibility not to retaliate against or restrict such rights, so long as they are exercised peacefully and responsibly. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such acts undermine academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and democratic society generally.