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: August 24, 2021

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):University of Cauca

Region & Country:Americas | Colombia

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On August 24 2021, Esteban Mosquera, a student-activist and a student-journalist from the University of Cauca, was shot and killed.

Mosquera, a well-known activist, was previously the victim of violent clashes with police during a 2018 protest. As an activist and journalist for a student publication, Mosquera has brought attention to income inequality, the cost of education, and violent crackdowns on student protests.

While walking home on August 24, at least two men traveling by motorcycle opened fire on Mosquera in his hometown of Popayan, killing him. The suspects fled the scene.

On August 27, state authorities arrested three individuals suspected of being involved in Mosquera’s killing. Two of the suspects are reportedly members of a criminal organization.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the targeted killing of a student and offers condolences to their family, friends, and classmates. State authorities have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to respond to and prevent such incidents, including by investigating and holding perpetrators accountable, in accordance with international human rights obligations. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, assassinations of student-activists 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).