On May 3, 2022, Mauricio Fori Balanta, a union and human rights leader from the Universidad del Valle, was assassinated.
As Balanta, a well-known member of the Mixed Union of Public Workers and Employees at the Universidad Del Valle was driving from his home to work, a man on a motorcycle shot him repeatedly. Balanta’s car collided with a bus and Balanta died. According to early reports, the attacker was an 18-year old man. While the attacker’s motive was unclear at the time of this report, the attack follows a string of attacks on human rights leaders and activists in Cali, Colombia in recent months, resulting in more than 100 deaths.
Scholars at Risk is gravely concerned about a targeted attack and murder of a university human rights leader, and sends condolences to the victim’s family, friends, and colleagues. 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, violent attacks on university leaders undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.