Scholars at Risk in the Americas

Scholars at Risk (SAR) is an international network of higher education institutions dedicated to protecting threatened scholars, preventing attacks on higher education communities and promoting academic freedom worldwide. The network protects scholars suffering grave threats to their lives, liberty and well-being by arranging positions of sanctuary at institutions in the network. The University of Ottawa joined the Scholars at Risk Network in 2014.

Since January 2018, the Human Rights Clinic monitors situations that may affect academic freedom in Canada, Colombia, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico and Venezuela as contributions to the SAR Academic Monitoring Project which publishes the Free to Think Reports every year. The group also participates in advocacy actions with Scholars at Risk.

Project Partner: Scholars at Risk

Academic Supervisor: Professor Isaac Nahon-Serfaty

Project Coordinator: Catalina Arango


Project activities include:

 

  • Hearing before the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) on threats to academic freedom and university autonomy in the Americas. On February 15, 2019, the Human Rights Research and Education Centre of the University of Ottawa, in association with Scholars at Risk, presented a hearing before the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) on threats to academic freedom and university autonomy in the Americas. This was the first time that this body held a hearing on academic freedom. Our organizations presented situations of violence against academics in Nicaragua, Venezuela and Brazil, as well as the persecution of students in Bolivia and Mexico. Another topic of concern was the lack of proper mechanisms to prevent and report cases of sexual harassment and sexual violence on campuses in the Americas. The IACHR is a regional human rights body created by the Organization of American States, with jurisdiction over its 35 member states, including Canada. T. The IACHR has accepted our proposal to jointly work on a resolution regarding standards to protect academic freedom and university autonomy in the Americas, which would be first step towards a thematic report on this subject.
  • Submission of an Amicus to the Constitutional Court of Colombia to protect the right to academic freedom of a University Professor. In May 2018, the Human Rights Clinic of the HRREC and Scholars at Risk submitted a joint amicus to advocate on behalf of Prof. Monica Godoy. She was dismissed by a public University due to her actions to address cases of violence against women (VAW) and sexual harassment in campus.  In July 2018, the Court determined that Prof. Godoy was unduly dismissed and ordered the University to reinstate her.

-   Text of the Amicus (in Spanish)

-   Decision of the Constitutional Court of Colombia (in Spanish).

  • Request of a thematic hearing to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights regarding attacks to academic freedom in the Americas. In September 2018, the HR Clinic of the HRREC, SAR and Aula Abierta submitted a request to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to testify on the attacks and threats on academic freedom in the Americas. The report will present our findings on situations affecting academic freedom and university autonomy, as well as recommendations to prevent these violations of human rights.

-   Text of the Request.


Isaac Nahon-Serfaty, Viviana Fernandez, Catalina Arango, one student working on the project and Salvador Herencia
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