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Australia apologizes to Afghans over “unlawful killings”

Report says Australian elite forces killed 39 Afghans civilians and prisoners unlawfully in an environment where “blood lust” and “competition killings” were reportedly a norm

AT News

KABUL: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has considered the report by the Inspector General of the Australian Defence Force on violations of the Law of Armed Conflicts by some Australian special forces in Afghanistan, released by the Australian Chief of the Defence Force, a necessary step towards ensuring transparency and implementing legal processes as well as ensuring justice and addressing the cases of illegal conduct.

The Prime Minister of Australia, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defence and the Australian Chief of Defence Force sent official letters to the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense, the National Security Adviser and the Chief of Staff of the Afghan Army, acknowledging the report and expressing their disgust and aversion to those violations of the Law of Armed Conflicts by members of the Australian special forces in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2016, the Afghan foreign ministry said on Friday.

“On behalf of the Government and People of Australia, they apologized to both the people and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan for these violations, and assured the Government of Afghanistan of their compliance with the recommendations of the Afghanistan Inquiry, providing justice and compensation to the families of the victims.”

While the Government and the people of Afghanistan are grateful for the full and continued support of the Australian Government over the past 19 years, it, in unison with the Australian Government, strongly condemns these violations and considers them indefensible, and deems the publication of the report and the appointment of a Special Investigator to address these incidents, as important steps towards achieving justice.

The Afghan government appreciated the expression of regret and sympathy by the Australian authorities and for their condolences to the people of Afghanistan, and thanks them for their reassurance to the Afghan Government that they will provide the victims of these incidents with reparations. Both Governments will work closely together to ensure that the recommendations of the Afghanistan Inquiry are met, justice is provided and compensation is paid to the victims.

Australian elite forces allegedly killed 39 Afghans civilians and prisoners unlawfully in an environment where “blood lust” and “competition killings” were reportedly a norm, according to a long-awaited official report.

Chief of the Australian Defense Force Gen. Angus Campbell said there had been a “warrior culture” among some members of Australia’s special forces serving in Afghanistan.

Gen Angus Campbell said none of the incidents could be “described as being in the heat of battle”

One alleged incident, the details of which have been redacted to protect the identities of those involved, is referred to in the document as “possibly the most disgraceful episode in Australia’s military history.”

The Australian Defense Force’s (ADF) four-year inquiry into alleged war crimes in Afghanistan alleges that some patrol commanders, who were treated as “demigods,” required junior soldiers to shoot prisoners to achieve their first kill, in a process known as “blooding.” The report presents what it says is “credible information” that weapons or handheld radios were then sometimes allegedly placed by a body to make it seem like the person had been killed in action.

None of the 39 alleged unlawful killings happened in the heat of battle, according to the report, and the Afghans who died were non-combatants or no longer combatants.

Campbell “sincerely and unreservedly” apologized to the people of Afghanistan for the conduct alleged in the report. “It would have devastated the lives of Afghan families and communities, causing immeasurable pain and suffering,” he said.

The ADF is recommending that Australia’s Federal Police (AFP) investigate 19 individuals from the Australian Special Forces over 36 alleged war crimes, including murder and cruel treatment of non-combatants in Afghanistan between 2009 and 2013.

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