On June 15, 2022, members of the Ecuadorian National Police reportedly entered the campus of the University of Cuenca without authorization, and utilized teargas to disperse a group of nonviolent student protesters who had gathered there.
Students had gathered just outside the campus as part of a series of nationwide protests that had begun on June 13. The protest was reportedly nonviolent, until police approached the scene and reportedly launched teargas at the protesting students both inside and outside the campus; students reportedly threw rocks in response. Similar unauthorized encroachments on university spaces were reported at other campuses in Ecuador on June 20 at the National Polytechnic School, and on June 21 at the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador. University officials denounced these encroachments publicly. The universities and their allies caused a resolution to be adopted by the national Ombudsman’s Office barring national police and armed forces from entering university campuses or firing weapons into them, and establishing “peace borders” outside university campuses, to prevent confrontations between state authorities and protesters.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about violent attacks on nonviolent student protesters, and the unauthorized entry on a campus space by police and other state authorities, in order to prevent the nonviolent exercise of the right to freedom of expression and assembly by students – rights that are protected by international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Ecuador is a Party. Such actions violate university autonomy and undermine academic freedom and harm democratic society generally.