A classified defence inquiry has reportedly found that members of the Australian Special Forces have committed war crimes in Afghanistan.
Fairfax Media reported on Friday that as per the inquiry report accessed by it, the internal defence investigators have found that soldiers had used “unsanctioned and illegal application of violence” during operations in Afghanistan, showing “disregard for human life and dignity”.
The inquiry into military conduct in Afghanistan was commissioned in 2016 by defence officials and led by department consultant Dr Samantha Crompvoets, who interviewed dozens of soldiers. However, her report has not been made public.
The allegations of war crimes have now become the subject of a separate investigation by the New South Wales judge Paul Brereton into the activities of Australia’s special forces in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2016. The Brereton inquiry is mandated to recommend on how the allegations so made are to be dealt with.
In response to the allegations, The Defense Department said in a statement that it took “all allegations about Australian forces seriously” and that it was “aware of allegations of significant issues involving the Special Operations Task Group in Afghanistan.”
Amnesty International Australia has demanded transparency.
Australia has been a staunch U.S. ally and has had troops stationed in Afghanistan for 17 years fighting against the Taliban in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks against the United States in 2001. It currently has about 300 troops in Afghanistan.