Responding to the arrest of a former Australian SAS soldier charged with the war crime of murder for the killing of an Afghan man while serving with the Australian Defense Force in Afghanistan, Amnesty International Australia’s Kyinzom Dhongdue said:
“The wheels of justice are finally turning nearly three years after the release of the Brereton inquiry. The arrest is an encouraging first step towards investigating alleged war crimes committed when Australian soldiers were deployed in Afghanistan.”
“The arrest sends an important message to families and victims that investigations will be carried out and not swept under the rug. It sends a similar message to those responsible for these alleged crimes. You will not be able to escape accountability.
“But it remains to be seen whether this is an isolated case or the start of a more tectonic shift in the way that Australian authorities hold their own soldiers accountable for serious violations of international humanitarian law.”
“Amnesty International Australia reiterates its calls to do everything it can to deliver on the recommendations of the Brereton report to ensure justice and to provide reparations to all victims and survivors “
The Australian Federal Police arrested a former special air services soldier on 20 March in New South Wales and said he would be charged with the war crime of murder for the 2012 shooting of an Afghan man while deployed to the country, according to media reports.
The incident was first revealed to the public in 2020 by ABC’s Four Corners program. Later that year Justice Paul Brereton’s inquiry into alleged war crimes in Afghanistan was released.
The report, the result of a four year inquiry, found evidence of grave human rights violations by Australian special forces soldiers, including the alleged executions of 39 Afghan civilians and prisoners, deliberate cover-ups and abuse.
It made 143 recommendations, including that 53 incidents involving 19 soldiers be referred to the Office of the Special Investigator for criminal investigation, and that the families of the victims be compensated.