The Prime Minister has announced a special investigator will be appointed to probe allegations of war crimes in Afghanistan and prosecute any Australian Defence Force soldiers accused of wrongdoing.
It comes as the Government prepares to release its report into a lengthy four-year investigation into alleged criminal conduct by special forces in 2016, conducted by the Inspector General of the ADF.
Scott Morrison said the report, due to be released next week, will be “difficult and hard news for Australians”.
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He confirmed there were a “significant number” of issues to look into.
“Given the likely allegations of serious and possibly criminal misconduct, the matters raised in the inquiry must be assessed, investigated and, where allegations are substantiated, prosecuted in court,” Mr Morrison said.
“To undertake this role, the government is establishing the Office of the Special Investigator, the Office of the Special Investigator will address the criminal matters made in the Inspector General’s report and investigate those allegations, gather evidence and, where appropriate, refer briefs to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions for consideration.”
“It is our Australian way to deal with these issues with a deep respect for Justice and the rule of law, but also one that seeks to illuminate the truth, but also seeks to understand it because that is what must drive our response,” the Prime Minister said.
Mr Morrison did however state that it’s important not all Defence Force Personnel are given a bad name by the report.
“I am so extremely thankful to every Australian who chooses to put on our uniform to serve under our flag, to protect our freedoms, to upholds our values and to protect our values,” Mr Morrison said.
“Our serving men and women are deserving of the respect and admiration in which they are held by the Australian people, and not just here, but our allies and partners around the world. They have earned it. They have demonstrated it.
“That means when you have such standards and respect, it requires us to deal with honest and brutal truths where expectations and standards may not have been met.
“This has been the case regarding some very serious issues that were raised regarding conduct by some members of Australia’s special operations task group in Afghanistan.”