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Afghanistan Inquiry report 11.81 MB

Please note: content warning - this report contains objectionable material. Appropriate care is to be taken to limit exposure.

This independent inquiry was commissioned by Defence in 2016, after rumours and allegations emerged relating to possible breaches of the Law of Armed Conflict by members of the Special Operations Task Group in Afghanistan over the period 2005 to 2016.

This report sets out the Inquiry’s findings and recommendations, and the evidence and reasoning on which they are based, in conformity with the governing legislation, the Inquiry Directions, and relevant legal principles. The report is in three parts.

Part One provides background and context. It explains the genesis of the Inquiry, and why it is important that it was conducted; the conduct of the Inquiry; the relevant legal framework and issues; and the rationale which the Inquiry has applied in determining what recommendations to make. It also explains the applicable Law of Armed Conflict and, in general terms, rules of engagement; the historical record of war crimes in Australian history; and the experience of other nations with investigations and inquiries of war crimes in Afghanistan.

Part Two (Volumes 1 to 6) is the main body of the report. It commences with an explanation of the limited role in a scoping inquiry of this kind of the relative credibility of witnesses, and includes for that limited purpose a review of the credibility of certain key witnesses, and of submissions made by some potentially affected persons relevant to credibility (Chapter 2.01). Chapters 2.02 to 2.58 examine in detail 57 incidents and issues of interest, setting out the relevant evidence, and the Inquiry’s findings and recommendations in respect of each of them. To facilitate the separation and segregation of issues if required for future purposes, these chapters are designed to be able to be read on a stand-alone basis. For that reason, where the same individuals or elements are involved in multiple incidents, there is a degree of repetition and duplication in some chapters. Chapter 2.59 deals more briefly with another 12 incidents, inquiry into which was discontinued at a relatively early stage, because it soon appeared that there was insufficient substance to warrant further consideration. Chapter 2.60 deals with a further 10 incidents and issues which remain open, usually because they have been discovered at a relatively late stage; recommendations are made as to how they should be progressed.

Part Three considers more systemic issues: the strategic, operational, organisational and cultural issues which may have contributed to the creation of an environment in which this conduct could take place; why the mechanisms of the Australian Defence Force for inquiries and oversight failed to detect it; and the responsibility of commanders.

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