On June 21, 2022, members of the Ecuadorian National Police reportedly entered the Catholic Pontifical University of Ecuador without authorization and threw tear gas canisters into the university’s educational center.
Students had gathered on campus as part of a series of nationwide protests that had begun on June 13. The protest was reportedly nonviolent, but several police entered the campus to disperse the protesters. After being evicted from campus, police reportedly launched teargas into campus from the outside to disperse the protesters. Similar unauthorized encroachments on university spaces were reported at other campuses in Ecuador on June 15 (see report) at the University of Cuenca and on June 20 (see report) at the National Polytechnic School. 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.