Position statement—Protection of scientists from intimidation and threat of violence

NB: As of 16 August 2023, this position statement has been superseded by Position Statement—Freedom and Responsibility of Science.

July, 2016

The Australian Academy of Science (the Academy) holds that all scientists should be free to go about their work, and to promote and disseminate the peer-reviewed results of their work in appropriate fora without fear of intimidation or violence from groups or individuals who hold contrary ideologies or views.

The Academy also strongly supports the International Council for Science (ICSU) Statute 5 on the Principle of Universality (freedom and responsibility) of science which states:

The free and responsible practice of science is fundamental to scientific advancement and human and environmental well-being. Such practice, in all its aspects, requires freedom of movement, association, expression and communication for scientists, as well as equitable access to data, information, and other resources for research. It requires responsibility at all levels to carry out and communicate scientific work with integrity, respect, fairness, trustworthiness, and transparency, recognising its benefits and possible harms. (www.icsu.org/freedom-responsibility/cfrs/statute-5)

While the Academy does not suggest that scientific input into public debate should be privileged over consideration of cultural, societal, financial or other factors, the scientists who produce and disseminate the results of their work should be given the freedom and the protection to do so without fear of intimidation or violence.

The Academy strongly encourages society to respect the role of scientists in developing and promoting independent evidence-based advice, and denounces any instance of intimidation, threatened or actual violence towards scientists.

The Australian Academy of Science was established by Royal Charter in 1954 and has an elected Fellowship of over 500 leading Australian scientists. The Academy celebrates and supports excellence in Australian science, promotes international scientific engagement, builds public awareness and understanding of science and provides independent, authoritative and influential scientific advice.

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