Arbitrary Detention of Several Students at Colombian University

News from Colombia | on: Monday, 14 March 2011

On 9th March, students demonstrating at the ‘Pedagogic and Technological University’ in Tunja, Boyaca Department were violently attacked by the Colombian riot police, known as ESMAD. Several students were injured and many detained during the on-campus protests about several academic and administrative measures being implemented which students say will affect their education.

Various students not taking part in the demonstration were also harassed and mistreated by police.

Jose Camilo Becerra, Social Sciences student and member of ACEU, the Colombian Association of University Students, was beaten and his leg was severely injured, causing him to go to hospital. After being treated for the injury, he was subsequently arbitrarily detained by police. Other students accompanying him were also detained.

More than 10 students were detained and had their due process denied. Human rights lawyers and the ACEU human rights secretary, who went to police station requesting to observe that due process was being respected, had their details taken down by police.

The situation for student activists is critical in Colombia, with several students having been killed in recent years. The ESMAD is notorious for their brutality on demonstrations and for being directly involved in assassinating students. Two of the most well known cases are that of the March 2006 shooting dead of Oscar Salas during a demonstration and the May 2005 killing of 15 year old student Nicolas Neira who was beaten to death by ESMAD police during a demonstration. Several other cases have also implicated the ESMAD.

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