An open letter to Prime Minister Tony Abbott

On 2 March, over 500 academics from more than 30 Australian universities (including Castan Centre Directors and Associates) signed a letter to the Prime Minister calling for the immediate closure of the detention centres on Manus Island and in Nauru. Academics can still add their names at this link.  We have reprinted the full text of the letter below. 

Dear Prime Minister,

This letter reflects the concerns of Australian academics whose areas of expertise include refugee law; political science; international law; history; psychiatry; psychology; education; social work; criminology; economics; business studies; sociology; social policy; nursing; philosophy; literature; the humanities; medicine; legal studies; journalism studies; sociology; childhood studies; public health, science; community welfare; health care; architecture; music, environmental sciences and human rights.

We believe that the current approach to dealing with asylum seekers arriving by boat, especially off-shore detention and claims determination, is seriously flawed and unsustainable.

It breaches Australia’s international legal obligations, including its obligations as a party to the Refugee Convention. It demonstrably harms the physical and psychological health of detainees.

Furthermore, it seriously undermines the status and good name of Australia as an international citizen.

We call on the Australian government to close the detention centres on Manus Island and in Nauru immediately.

Yours sincerely,
Academics from Australian tertiary institutions.

A full list of signatories can be viewed here.

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Castan Centre

The Castan Centre for Human Rights Law seeks to promote and protect human rights through the generation and dissemination of public scholarship in international and domestic human rights law. In pursuit of this mission, the Centre brings the work of human rights scholars, practitioners and advocates from a wide range of disciplines together in the Centre’s key activities of research, teaching, public education (lectures, seminars, conferences, speeches, media presentations, etc), applied research, advice work and consultancies.


  • Was this letter also sent to Rudd and Gillard during their tenure as PM?

    • Rudd and Gillard never refouled anyone – They merely erred on the side of stupidity, a line which Abbott has well and truly crossed.

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