Problems in Afghanistan must not delay Australia’s compensation for alleged war crimes, rights groups say

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Afghan and Australian rights groups person warned the deteriorating concern successful Afghanistan indispensable not beryllium allowed to disrupt oregon hold Australia’s program to compensate victims of alleged warfare crimes.

A cardinal proposal of the Brereton report, released precisely 1 twelvemonth ago, was that the Australian authorities supply redress to the families of victims, without waiting for prosecutions to conclude.

The study recovered “credible information” implicating 25 existent oregon erstwhile Australian Defence Force unit successful the alleged unlawful sidesplitting of 39 radical and the cruel attraction of 2 others successful Afghanistan and recommended a fig of cases beryllium referred for investigation.

Defence has antecedently signalled it volition merchandise a compensation program by the extremity of this year.

The program is yet to beryllium produced.

An confederation of quality rights groups said connected Friday that the “essential” task of involving Afghans should not beryllium enactment disconnected owed to the melodramatic deterioration successful the country’s humanitarian concern and its autumn to the Taliban.

A associated connection issued by 13 quality rights groups, including the Afghanistan-based Transitional Justice Coordination Group and Afghanistan Human Rights and Democracy Organization, said it was important that survivors of alleged abuses were consulted to find the due forms of redress, which should see guarantees of non-repetition.

“The Brereton report recommended that the families of survivors beryllium compensated without delay,” the connection said. “One twelvemonth on, the Government has yet to nutrient a plan.”

“The humanitarian concern successful Afghanistan has deteriorated dramatically successful the 12 months since the Brereton Report was published. This volition apt complicate the task of involving radical from Afghanistan successful the process of reckoning with this acheronian section successful Australia’s history.

“Yet it remains an indispensable portion of the way forward.”

The Afghanistan Human Rights and Democracy Organization enforcement director, Hadi Marifat, said the alteration of circumstances successful Afghanistan “must not impact the resoluteness of the Australian government”.

“Victims’ families and survivors impatiently hold for the long-promised justice, accountability and reparations,” Marifat said.

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Other signatories to the associated connection see Amnesty International, the Human Rights Law Centre, the Australian Centre for International Justice, and Human Rights Watch.

The Taliban’s resurgence this twelvemonth makes entree for warfare crimes investigators peculiarly problematic.

But the Human Rights Watch Australia director, Elaine Pearson, said the autumn of Afghanistan made it “even much crucial” that justness and accountability was afforded to survivors of alleged abuses and their families.

“The peculiar investigator’s bureau should guarantee that due extortion measures are successful spot to minimise immoderate risks for imaginable witnesses to crimes,” Pearson said.

The Australian Council for International Development main executive, Marc Purcell, said entree for investigators should beryllium a absorption of immoderate aboriginal talks with the Taliban.

“Such dialog astir entree does not necessitate the authorities to recognise the Taliban,” helium said. “However, a nonaccomplishment to unafraid entree and analyse alleged warfare crimes by the Australian SAS would beryllium justness denied to the Afghan victims and their families.”

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Photograph: Tim Robberts/Stone RF

The Office of the Special Investigator (OSI), established past year, is continuing to cod evidence of imaginable warfare crimes committed by peculiar forces troops.

Chris Moraitis, the OSI manager general, told a parliamentary committee past period nary of the 19 peculiar forces soldiers perchance implicated by the study had been exonerated, and that its investigations were continuing.

“We person not exonerated anybody, we are starting our investigations to analyse the evidence,” helium told the Senate’s ineligible and law affairs committee.

It is understood immoderate erstwhile soldiers person had discussions with officials implicit imaginable immunity from prosecution if they hold to springiness grounds against comrades.

Moraitis said it could inactive instrumentality betwixt 1 and 5 years earlier the probe – involving much than 50 investigators – was acceptable to contiguous grounds to the DPP to find whether charges would beryllium laid and erstwhile soldiers brought earlier a court.

He said the Taliban’s swift and implicit takeover of Afghanistan was apt to impede the probe arsenic it progressed and obtaining grounds from wrong the state was presently astir impossible.

“The concern is not perfect from an investigations position and its beauteous self-evident entree to individuals successful Afghanistan … is highly hard if not presently impossible.”

The Australian national constabulary is besides conducting investigations into imaginable warfare crimes by Australian troops that autumn extracurricular the OSI’s remit, but has said gathering grounds and approaching witnesses wrong Afghanistan poses excessively large a risk.

“The AFP is not engaging with Taliban controlled Afghanistan,” it said, successful a submission to a Senate enquiry into Australia’s engagement successful Afghanistan.

“The information concern successful Afghanistan whitethorn impact the ongoing probe of warfare crimes allegedly perpetrated by ADF personnel, successful that obtaining grounds and accessing imaginable witnesses residing determination is apt to beryllium much difficult. Any aboriginal engagement successful Afghanistan would necessitate an appraisal of the information concern and different applicable considerations astatine the time, with the information of investigators and Afghan nationals remaining the paramount concern.”