Australian Special Forces War Crimes in Afghanistan

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Report of war crimes in Afghanistan by Australia special forces sparks outrage.The Brereton war crimes inquiry has revealed 39 cases of alleged murders of Afghans by Australian special forces officers, who were deployed as part of NATO

The Brereton war crimes inquiry has revealed 39 cases of alleged murders of Afghans by Australian special forces, who were deployed as part of NATO in the war-torn country from 2005 to 2016. According to The Guardian, the four-year review led by Maj Gen Justice Paul Brereton has uncovered cases of war crimes committed in Afghanistan by Australian armed forces.

The inquiry revealed that some of the murders that took place were carried out at the behest of patrol commanders, who asked their subordinates to execute prisoners in order to get their first kill, a practice known as ‘blooding’ among soldiers. According to the report, there is evidence that victims were not combatants and in some cases teenagers.

‘Expected better from Australia’
The findings have sparked shock and outrage in Afghanistan’s civil society. Hadi Marifat, executive director of Afghanistan’s Human Rights and Democracy Organisation, said that the report has left him “shocked” as he did not expect such things from the Australian armed forces. “What is actually shocking for us is that we have been expecting better from Australia and Australian armed forces,” Marifat said.

The report has also garnered a lot of criticism from Australia’s political class, with former prime minister Kevin Rudd saying he was “utterly disgusted”. Australia’s Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said that she was “physically ill” after reading the report. Angus Campbell, chief of the Australian defence force, has tendered an apology to the families of the victims.

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The Brereton inquiry has also prompted the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) to call on governments of the United Kingdom, the United States, and other nations, whose armed forces are stationed in the country, to set-up a similar independent inquiry to review the conduct of their special forces. The AIHRC particularly called on the British government to set-up an inquiry to review the conduct of the UK’s special forces after allegations of unlawful killings surfaced recently.