Submission: Australia's engagement in Afghanistan

Amnesty International Australia has made a submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade’s inquiry into Australia’s engagement in Afghanistan. The Submission’s focus was on human rights abuses related to Australia’s participation in the war in Afghanistan, and human rights abuses following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan.

Australia’s 20-year engagement in Afghanistan has impacted on human rights in both Afghanistan and in Australia.

The Brereton Report found evidence of grave human rights violations by Australian special forces soldiers, including the alleged executions of 39 Afghan civilians and prisoners. In Australia, journalists have has their houses and offices searched, and others have been threatened with prosecution, for reporting on these violations.

Since the Taliban took over Afghanistan on 15 August 2021, Amnesty International has reported on numerous human rights abuses, including the violent repression of peaceful protests, attacks against human rights defenders and journalists, denying women and girls their right to and education, and the unlawful killing of Hazara people.

In it’s submission, Amnesty recommended the Australian Government:

  • Delivers all recommendations of the Brereton Report as soon as possible,
  • Develops a permanent international crime mechanism resourced to provide effective access to justice,
  • Ensures appropriate compensation is made to all those in Afghanistan affected by breaches of human rights carried out by Australian forces,
  • Includes family representatives and survivors in the design and implementation of further reparation and provides a space for human rights and civil society organisations input into the process,
  • Considers all Afghan women and girls as prima facie refugees, on the grounds of high risk of gender-based persecution upon return to Afghanistan,
  • Suspends visa requirements and/or expedites humanitarian visas to at-risk groups,
  • Allocates at least 20,000 humanitarian places, in addition to the existing program, to those fleeing the Taliban,
  • Reforms the Community Sponsorship Programme, including by making it more affordable and in addition to the government’s humanitarian intake, so that people can sponsor refugees from countries such as Afghanistan,
  • Provides permeant protection visas to those from Afghanistan in Australia on temporary visas,
  • Continues to provide aid to Afghanistan and demands a commitment from the Taliban to uphold human rights treaties,
  • Supports the establishment of a fact-finding mission or similar independent investigative mechanism,
  • Urges the United States to drop the charges against Julian Assange,
  • Responds to the Senate Standing Committee on the Environment and Communications Inquiry into Press Freedom,
  • Enshrines the principle of freedom of the press, and the right to freedom of opinion and expression contained in Article 19 of the ICCPR, in legislation, and
  • Urges the President of the United States to close Guantanamo Bay.