Friday, November 20, 2020

More on Australia war crimes

We reported an inspector general investigation about Australian forces in Afghanistan here.

Australian Strategic Policy Institute has a follow-up, by M. Cormier and A. Duxbury, Pathways to prosecution for Australian soldier's crimes in Afghanistan.
Yesterday it was confirmed in the Brereton report that there’s ‘credible information’ to substantiate the unlawful killing of 39 people by Australian special forces personnel in Afghanistan. These shocking allegations led Prime Minister Scott Morrison to announce last week that a special investigator’s office will be established to assist the Australian Federal Police to investigate these alleged crimes. The information contained in the Brereton report will now serve as a guide for the special investigator’s office, which will focus on gathering evidence that will be admissible in criminal prosecutions.

If a decision is made to implement the recommendations of the Brereton report and prosecute members of the Australian Defence Force, where can they be tried and under what law?

There are two main options—one involving criminal trial in the civilian court system, and the other court martial via Australia’s military justice system. The Brereton report recommends that any criminal investigation and prosecution of alleged war crimes follow the civilian route, with the involvement of the AFP and the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions. Given the availability of the military justice system, why has the report recommended this course of action?

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