Australia Apologizes for War Crimes in Afghanistan

  • An investigative report revealed serious misconduct by Australian soldiers during their mission in Afghanistan
  • The commander-in-chief of the Australian Defence Force Angus Campbell has published an investigation report on the conduct of Australian soldiers in Afghanistan
  • Australian soldiers "illegally" killed at least 39 prisoners during the Afghanistan War

The commander-in-chief of the Australian Defence Force, Angus Campbell has published an investigative report on the conduct of Australian soldiers in Afghanistan. Gen. Campbell confirmed that Australian soldiers “illegally” killed at least 39 prisoners during the Afghanistan War.

General Angus John Campbell, AO, DSC is a senior officer in the Australian Army, serving as the Chief of the Defence Force since 6 July 2018. He was previously posted as Commander Operation Sovereign Borders from September 2013 until he was appointed Chief of Army in May 2015.

An investigative report revealed serious misconduct by Australian soldiers during their mission in Afghanistan, and recommended criminal prosecutions against relevant special forces personnel.

Gen. Campbell said that the investigation report found that the Australian soldiers stationed in Afghanistan had been filled with a “shameful behavior” of “self-centered warrior culture,” which was the “most serious violation” of military behavior and professional values.

Speaking in Canberra, Gen. Campbell said, “on behalf of the Australian Armed Forces, I sincerely apologize to the Afghan people for any wrongdoing.” He called for the prosecution of suspected soldiers for war crimes.

Four-Year Survey

The Office of the Inspector General of the Australian Military has spent four years investigating at least 55 cases of illegal killings and violations of international laws of war by Australian soldiers stationed in Afghanistan from 2005 to 2016. It heard the testimony of more than 400 witnesses.

Gen. Campbell said that the investigation found a dangerous “competitive atmosphere” within the special forces, causing some soldiers to ignore and break the rules. None of these killings was due to “a whim.”

Gen. Campbell said that the first illegal killing occurred in 2009, and most other cases occurred in 2012 and 2013. Some suspects are still serving in the military. Australia has more than 26,000 troops in Afghanistan.

Kevin Rudd: Soldiers Should be Brought to Justice 

“Those who are responsible for these crimes, and any efforts to conceal them, must be brought to justice,” Rudd said in a statement. “Behind every unlawful killing is a family grieving for someone they love. The families of those victims must be compensated for their unjust loss.”

After the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, Australia sent more than 26,000 soldiers to Afghanistan to fight side by side with the U.S. military to attack Islamic militias, such as the Taliban and Al Qaeda. In 2013, Australia withdrew from the Hindu Kush, Afghanstan. Since then, the Australian Special Forces team has often been severely criticized.

Current Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told Sky News:

 “These are the assurances that I have provided to the Afghan government, that this is the process we will follow, that we will take this very seriously and we will deal with it as Australians under the Australian rule of law.”

The War in Afghanistan stems from the United States invasion of Afghanistan on 7 October 2001, when the United States of America and its allies successfully drove the Taliban from power in order to deny Al-Qaeda a safe base of operations in Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Morrison said the “the high esteem in which we hold our defence forces has been earned over more than a century and that stands – firmly”.

A week ago, the Prime Minister appointed a special prosecutor to decide whether to hold the military personnel involved. He announced to the public a horrific act that even active soldiers and veterans could not bear.

Critics have previously accused the government of suppressing whistleblowers’ reports of alleged misconduct by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan. A 6-year-old boy was allegedly killed during a house search. The police even investigated an ABC reporter who first disclosed these suspected war crimes in 2017.

“As a former member of the Australian defence force I am absolutely appalled by the revelations,” the independent South Australian senator Rex Patrick said. “Our troops unlawfully killed the very people they were sent to Afghanistan to help protect.”

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Doris Mkwaya

I am a journalist, with more than 12 years of experience as a reporter, author, editor, and journalism lecturer." I've worked as a reporter, editor and journalism lecturer, and am very enthusiastic about bringing what I've learned to this site.  

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