5 August 2021
Human rights organisations in Afghanistan and Australia have written to the Australian government regarding the recommendations on compensation set out in the report of the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force Afghanistan Inquiry, led by Justice Paul Brereton, into alleged war crimes by Australian special forces in Afghanistan.
In an open letter to the Minister for Defence, the Attorney General, and the Prime Minister, the groups set out some key considerations on the issue of compensation and other forms of redress for victims, including that
- Australia should as an interim step promptly pay compensation in those cases earmarked for compensation in the Brereton Report;
- Australia should ensure that compensation is not limited to cases identified in the Brereton Report; and
- Australia should include survivors in the design and implementation of further reparation.
The Brereton Report made 143 recommendations, including that Australia compensate the families of Afghan nationals unlawfully killed. The report noted that this should be done swiftly i.e. without waiting for the conclusion of any related criminal proceedings, noting that this was “the morally right thing to do”. The Afghanistan Inquiry Reform Plan published by the Department of Defence on 30 July 2021 states that an implementation timeline will be put in place and that more information on the government’s response to the recommendations on compensation will be available by the end of the year.
Mr Hadi Marifat, Executive Director at the Afghanistan Human Rights and Democracy Organization, said: “Families have lost their breadwinners and they must be compensated without any delay. I have spoken with survivors several times. They are seeking a comprehensive reparation program, and they want to be consulted on its appropriate forms.”
Ms Fiona Nelson, Senior Legal Advisor at the Australian Centre for International Justice, commented: “As the ADF completes its withdrawal from Afghanistan, Australia must make good on its obligations to the Afghan people. This includes ensuring that survivors of war crimes are treated with dignity and provided with effective and prompt reparation.”
Ms Manizha Isaar of the Transitional Justice Coordination Group said: “With the past decades of war in Afghanistan, the Afghan people have gone through enormous difficulties. Reparations are important to victims as one way of achieving some measure of justice.”
Media enquiries: Rawan Arraf, Australian Centre for International Justice: 0450 70 88 70
Image Credit: (c) Neale Maude