Australia and New Zealand urged to take action over Nauru rights

Professor Kim Rubenstein

More than 80 prominent constitutional and human rights law academics have written to the Australian and New Zealand governments to express concerns over the breakdown of constitutional law and human rights in Nauru.

They have written an open letter to Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop, and to New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Murray McCully, urging both countries to help Nauruan opposition MP Roland Kun, who has been suspended from parliament and had his passport cancelled due to his criticism of the Nauruan government.

Nauru has also revoked the resident’s visa of Mr Kun’s Australian wife Dr Katy Le Roy, who is working in New Zealand and taking sole responsibility for caring for their three children.

“In addition to the general concern for the deteriorating rule of law, the signatories below wish to go on record to express their individual and collective concern about the international human rights issues that the Kun and Le Roy family’s situation raises and to urge both governments to consider this grave concern in their approach to this problem,” the letter said.

The letter is signed by 52 Australian academics, while a separate letter from 29 New Zealand academics has also been sent to Mr McCully.

Spokesperson Professor Kim Rubenstein said the action against Mr Kun appeared to stem from his criticism of the breakdown of the rule of law in Nauru when the country’s resident magistrate and non-resident Chief Justice were forced out of office.

Professor Rubenstein, Director of the Centre for International and Public Law at The Australian National University (ANU), said Nauru’s response to the criticism appeared to be an assault on Mr Kun’s right to free speech and an attack on his right to freedom of movement.

She said the forced separation of Mr Kun and Dr Le Roy also constituted an arbitrary interference with Mr Kun’s family.

“We urge the Australian and New Zealand governments to assist Mr Kun in being reunited with his family and express sincere concern for the infringement of international human rights law and the deterioration of the rule of law in Nauru,” Professor Rubenstein said.

Updated:  10 August 2015/Responsible Officer:  College General Manager, ANU College of Law/Page Contact:  Law Marketing Team