We support the national broadcaster’s Investigations Team and the courageous journalists who brought to light allegations of war crimes by Australian special forces in Afghanistan. The AFP are mandated with investigating allegations which give rise to war crimes offences which are contained in Division 268 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code. We note the AFP was referred further material in December 2018 in regards to war crimes allegations by Australian defence personnel in Afghanistan and the AFP have indicated that those allegations are being investigated.
We are currently researching whether past allegations have been properly investigated according to minimum investigative standards. ACIJ encourages the AFP to ensure that all allegations of serious international crimes are properly investigated to ensure there is accountability for those who perpetrate these crimes. ACIJ is also concerned about the potential conflict of interest that may arise where the AFP are concurrently investigating allegations of serious war crimes and, journalists who publish those allegations in the public interest.
The Australian government should seriously consider a permanent independent specialist war crimes unit properly resourced to investigate all allegations of criminal offences in Division 268 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code.