Accountability for Australian War Crimes in Afghanistan
Advancing victims’ rights to truth, justice & accountability
© ISAF/John Collins
In November 2020, after a four-year administrative inquiry into allegations of war crimes by Australian special forces in Afghanistan, the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force, led by Justice Brereton, released the report of the inquiry. The release of the report marked a significant milestone in Australia’s ability to confront the credible allegations of crimes and forge a process for individual and collective accountability.
The Australian Centre for International Justice was established anticipating that the domestic investigations and prosecutions of the allegations of war crimes by Australian special forces in Afghanistan will be a pivotal moment in shaping Australia’s approach to an international crimes policy. Our strategic advocacy, policy engagement and collaboration with others, has provided focus on victims’ rights and has had significant impact.
We have been coordinating efforts with human rights groups in Australia and around the world, but particularly in Afghanistan, to bring the critical perspectives, leadership and depth of experience Afghan human rights organisations and advocates have to offer. These efforts included a coordinated media campaign, including a joint call for action, bringing together Afghan, Australian and international human rights organisations. We have brought attention to Afghan human rights organisations to provide expert advice. Our media assistance ensured Afghan voices were reflected in domestic and international media.
The Afghanistan Inquiry Report, years in the making, is a welcome first step. But the real work starts now. Victims’ families have never given up their demands for truth, justice and accountability. It’s imperative for us to work to ensure their rights are respected, and enforced.
The Australian Centre for International Justice is building a strategy that implements our mission and stays true to our values in advocating for victims and victims’ rights. We are working with our partners in Afghanistan to find ways on how best to advocate for Afghan victims and to ensure what will follow is a full and comprehensive accountability process. There is much work ahead.
© ISAF/John Collins
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