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 01, 2020

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):National University of San Marcos

Region & Country:Americas | Peru

New or Ongoing:New Incident

In October 2020, National University of San Marcos archaeologist Ruth Shady reported being the subject of violent threats by individuals apparently seeking to occupy an archaeological site that she was overseeing.

Shady is renowned in her field, known for discovering in 1994 ancient ruins in Caral, Peru, that date back to a five thousand-year-old city.

After the COVID-19 coronavirus spread to Peru, a group of individuals described as land traffickers and squatters began raiding and occupying the architectural site in Caral. Reports indicate that ruins and artifacts had been destroyed by the same individuals.

Shady reported that she and her colleagues, as well as her lawyer, began receiving death threats intended to dissuade them from carrying out their work in the Caral Architectural Zone. Shady further reported that the same individuals poisoned and killed her dog “as a warning.” Reports indicate that her university has called on state authorities to provide Shady security support.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about violent threats against scholars in order to restrict their nonviolent exercise of the right to academic freedom — conduct that is 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 should investigate and respond appropriately to such threats, including by providing security support. In addition to the immediate victims, violent threats intended to restrict academic activity undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.