Reports & Articles

Report: Free to Think 2021

 Institution: Scholars at Risk (SAR)

Publication date: December 2021

Language: English

The report Free to Think 2021 is the seventh installment of an annual report by Scholars at Risk’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project. The report analyzes 332 attacks on higher education communities in 65 countries and territories around the world between September 1, 2020 and August 31, 2021. The report shows how many  higher education communities are overwhelmed by frequent attacks on scholars, students, staff, and their institutions. State and non-state actors, including armed militant and extremist groups, police and military forces, government authorities, off-campus groups, and even members of higher education communities, among others, carry out these attacks, which often result in deaths, injuries, and deprivations of liberty. Beyond their harm to the individuals and institutions directly targeted, these attacks undermine entire higher education systems, by impairing the quality of teaching, research, and discourse on campus and constricting society’s space to think, question, and share ideas. Ultimately, they impact all of us, by damaging higher education’s unique capacity to drive the social, political, cultural, and economic development from which society will benefit.

Declaration of Inter-American Principles on Academic Freedom and University Autonomy

Institution: Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR)

Publication date: December 2021

Language: Spanish

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is issuing—along with its Special Rapporteurship for Freedom of Expression and its Special Rapporteurship on Economic, Social, Cultural, and Environmental Rights—a Declaration of Inter-American Principles on Academic Freedom and University Autonomy, in order to improve protection and safeguards for academic freedom in the Americas.

This declaration of principles applies to higher education and stresses the importance of science and knowledge as public goods and as pillars of democracy, the rule of law, sustainable development, diversity of ideas, and academic progress. Science and knowledge are essential elements of all free, open, plural, fair, and equal societies.

In its declaration, the IACHR expresses its concern about allegations made in various countries in the Americas regarding repression against student groups and student unions, and also regarding harassment, attacks, and budget cuts affecting academic institutions, as well as about other forms of retaliation against members of academic communities based on arbitrary or discriminatory measures.

Solidarity with Uruguayan political scientist Gerardo Caetano for the aggressions carried out against him by former military officer and repressor Eduardo Ferro Bizzozero

Institution: Network Academics under Threat  Publication date: December 2021

Language: English

Political scientist and historian Gerardo Caetano has been the target of aggressive statements made by repressor and retired military officer Eduardo Ferro Bizzozero, who worked in various military intelligence units during the Uruguayan dictatorship and was recently prosecuted for his responsibility in cases of torture and forced disappearances.

The aggressions came after the political scientist’s participation in a discussion forum in the auditorium of the Instituto Militar de Estudios Superiores at the end of August this year, in which Caetano told the armed forces: “You should not pick up the rucksack of those who – wearing the uniform of the Republic – violated the rights of the Republic. There is no reason for you to show solidarity with acts that violate the fundamental rules of your democratic convictions.” Following these statements, Caetano was attacked on social networks and in the media by those that were part of the Uruguayan dictatorship. Among them, retired military officer Ferro attacked Caetano by writing a letter that was published in a Uruguayan weekly in mid-September, in which he attacks the political scientist personally. He accuses him of being “an operator of psychological warfare” and a “paper guerrilla fighter”, among other things.
Several Uruguayan and Latin American organisations and professional associations have expressed their strong support for Caetano. Among them, Clacso, the National Academy of Letters of Uruguay, the Uruguayan Association of Political Science (Aucip) and the Uruguayan Association of Historians, which remarked its “firm support for a plural and democratic exchange on all issues related to our country’s past.”
Similarly, Clacso stresses that “intimidatory mechanisms are reminiscent of those used by the same actors in the different Latin American dictatorships and do not contribute to debate and democratic strengthening.” In this context, the Network Academics under Threat joins the above statements of support and expresses its solidarity with Gerardo Caetano.

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Press Release

Institution: Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR)

Publication date: July 2021

Language: Spanish

As in other Latin American countries, restrictions on academic freedom in Venezuela are also a matter of concern. The IACHR and its Special Rapporteurs have published a press release expressing their concern about actions carried out by the State that undermine university autonomy at different levels. The IACHR also notes the difficulties caused by budget cuts that seriously hinder the functioning of universities in particular and the education sector in general. In light of this situation, the IACHR highlights the transcendental role of universities as centres of critical thinking and for the exchange of ideas.

Report: Free Universities: Putting the Academic Freedom Index into Action

Institution: Global Public Policy Institute

Publication date: March 2021

Authors: Katrin Kinzelbach, Illyas Saliba, Janika Spannagel and Robert Quinn

Language: English

Academic freedom is a universal right and essential to quality education, teaching and research. It is the engine of innovation and a fundamental condition for acquiring and generating knowledge. While states and universities around the world are committed to respecting academic freedom, it remains under attack in many places. At the time of publication of this report, the international community continues to confront the global COVID-19 pandemic. Higher education institutions have tried to adapt to the new circumstances by implementing distance and online learning. However, the pandemic has also brought new threats to academic freedom. Most notable are the increased possibilities of control and surveillance mechanisms for research and teaching, as well as sanctions, restrictions, self-censorship and isolation. The document stresses the importance of redoubling the commitment to academic freedom, not only for higher education, but for all. To this end, the report offers recommendations for the effective development of free universities and calls on higher education authorities, as well as other decision-makers (such as university administrations and parliamentarians) to use the data provided by the Index of Academic Freedom to strengthen the protection and promotion of academic freedom.

 

Report: Free to Think 2020

 

Institution: Scholars at Risk (SAR)

Publication date: November 2020

Language: English

The report details the continuation of a global pattern of attacks on academics. Armed groups and individuals continue to perpetrate serious and violent attacks against higher education communities. In turn, state authorities around the world resort to arrests, prosecutions and other coercive legal measures to punish and restrict the research, teaching, expression and association activities of hundreds of academics and students. After most universities switched to virtual mode due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the pattern of attacks changed and the crisis revealed new vulnerabilities in university education. SAR reported an increase in harassment, bullying and other online attacks. The report analyses 341 reported attacks in 58 countries that took place between September 2019 and August 2020.

 

Article: Precisamos falar do “efeito balbúrdia”: um diálogo com Paulo Freire sobre o papel da extensão em tempos de ataques à educação pública

Institution: Instituto Federal Fluminense do Brasil

Publication date: September 2020

Authors: Pâmella Passos and Evelyn Morgan

Language: Portuguese

This article is published in the context of a series of attacks on universities and public institutions in Brazil. Written by Professors Pâmella Passos and Evelyn Morgan, the article invites us to reflect on Paulo Freire’s contributions in the field of Extension, a key concept in Freire’s philosophy. It is worth mentioning that the works of Paulo Freire, an internationally renowned educator, have also been criticised by conservative sectors that advocate a neutral and impartial education as opposed to a critical, democratic and emancipatory education.

Report: Academic Freedom in Brazil

Institution: Global Public Policy Institute

Publication date: September 2020

Authors: Conrado Hübner Mendes, Adriane Sanctis de Brito, Bruna Angotti, Fernando Romani Sales, Luciana Silva Reis and Natalia Pires de Vasconcelos

Language: English

The report describes the serious attacks on academic freedom in Brazil. In recent years, the political climate has been characterised by great social and political polarisation with serious consequences for university research and higher education. The Brazilian government’s actions, through legal and institutional channels combined with constant discursive attacks, have created an increasingly hostile environment for academics, who are an important opposition group to the federal government. Threats to academic freedom include major budget cuts and freezes, court orders censoring political debates on university campuses, channels of political and ideological denunciation, new laws and interpretations affecting institutional governance, and false public statements and defamation of the academic community.

Press Statement: “LASA expresses concern about threats against scholars working in Latin America”

Institution: Latin American Studies Association (LASA)

Date of publication: January 2019

Language: English / Spanish

LASA has published a statement to voice its concern that many academics working in Latin America are increasingly facing harassment and other forms of aggression, intimidation and threats to their safety and well-being as a result of their research. In the vast majority of cases, academics subject to intimidation and attacks do not receive adequate protection from state institutions and relevant authorities in the countries where such attacks are carried out.

1st Report of the Network Academics under Threat: the situation of academics at risk in Latin America (2018)

Institution: Network Academics under Threat /Academicxs en Riesgo

Publication date: November 2018

Authors: Francesca Lessa, Rosario Figari Layús and Nancy Tapias Torrado

Language: Spanish

This first report of the network is the result of the first meeting and workshop that took place within the framework of the XXXVI International Congress of the Latin American Studies Association held in Barcelona in May 2018. The main objective of the workshop was to carry out a diagnosis of the situation of threats and risks faced by researchers throughout the region. As a result, information was gathered and used to prepare this first report.