According to an investigation report, Australian soldiers have committed war crimes while serving in Afghanistan. 25 members of a special unit had “unlawfully” killed at least 39 prisoners or civilians, said the chief of the Australian Defense Forces, Angus Campbell, on Thursday in Canberra when he published a report on the behavior of Australian soldiers in the war in Afghanistan.
A “shameful balance sheet” of an “egocentric warrior culture” was revealed. The results indicated “most serious violations” of military behavior and professional values. Campbell apologized to the Afghan people “for any wrongdoing by Australian soldiers”.
For the report, the Inspector General of the Australian Military followed up on indications of unlawful killings and violations of international martial law between 2005 and 2016. More than 400 witnesses were heard and investigations started in 57 cases.
The report outlines a culture of “toxic competitive thinking” within the task force that has resulted in some soldiers shortening procedures, ignoring rules, and bending them, Campbell said. None of these “unlawful killings” happened “in the heat of the moment”.
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“Everyone spoken to during this investigation understood the international law of war and the rules of engagement under which they were deployed.” This gives “credible information” to support the claim that Australian soldiers killed “illegally”.
Campbell said some of the 25 suspected soldiers were still serving in the armed forces. Younger soldiers were forced to shoot a prisoner in order to carry out the first killing as a soldier. Evidence was also found showing that soldiers tried to cover up the crimes. They placed weapons, radios and grenades next to the bodies of Afghan civilians to make it look like they were “enemies killed in battle”.
It was recommended that 36 matters involving 19 people be referred to the Australian Federal Police for criminal investigation. In addition, the victims and their families should be compensated. Campbell said he would “work with the Afghan government as soon as possible” to develop a compensation plan.
Afghanistan’s independent human rights commission welcomed the initiative to deal with suspected war crimes. The Commission will do its best to provide further evidence of possible violations of international law, it said in a statement published on Thursday.
Premier Morrison: It’s hard to take revelations
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced last week that a special investigator would investigate alleged war crimes committed by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan and bring those responsible to justice. He had prepared his compatriots for revelations that were difficult to cope with – not just for active soldiers and veterans.
Australia sent troops to Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001 attacks. You were part of the US-led international military operation to overthrow the Taliban rule in the Hindu Kush. There are currently around 1,550 Australian soldiers in the country; The German Bundeswehr is also involved in a training mission there. The USA is currently reducing its military presence in Afghanistan with a view to a desired peace agreement between the Afghan government and the Taliban, who are once again in control of large areas. (dpa)