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: November 03, 2020

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances | Imprisonment

Institution(s):University of La Laguna

Region & Country:Europe | Spain

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On November 3, 2020, police reportedly clashed with students during a protest at University of La Laguna (ULL). Police arrested two students in apparent retaliation for their participation in the protest.

With authorization from the City Council of La Laguna, the National Police and the Military Emergency Unit conducted drills in the event of a building collapsing, on the ULL campus. Students from the Faculty of Fine Arts at ULL reportedly began a nonviolent demonstration against the police presence and use of smoke bombs. During the protest, police reportedly charged at the students with batons and arrested two students. The following day, the two students were charged with attack and disorder and then temporarily released. According to el Diario, police arrested students who appeared to be recording the police action on their phones or recording the police vehicles’ license plates.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the use of violence and arrest in response to the nonviolent exercise of the rights to freedom of 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 Convention on Civil and Political Rights, to which Spain is a party. State authorities have an obligation to refrain from restricting student-led protests, so long as they are nonviolent and responsible. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such actions undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.

*SAR identified this incident in data made publicly available by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED).