Australia apologises to Afghanistan for special forces misconduct

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Australia has written to Afghanistan's government to apologise for misconduct by special forces troops identified in a four-year investigation, which will be made public on Thursday.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also personally informed Afghanistan's President, Ashraf Ghani, about the release of the report and that it contains disturbing allegations.



Defence Force Chief Angus Campbell is releasing a public summary of the four-year investigation by senior judge Paul Brereton for the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force. His investigation canvassed alleged war crimes committed by special forces troops between 2005 and 2016.

The government is setting up a new special investigator's office to examine evidence and brief the Director of Public Prosecutions on any criminal allegations.

Mr Ghani's office revealed in a statement that Foreign Minister Marise Payne had written to her counterpart and "extended apologies for the misconduct identified by the inquiry, by some Australian military personnel in Afghanistan". Senator Payne's office has confirmed this.

The statement from Mr Ghani's office also says Mr Morrison expressed "deepest sorrow" over the misconduct of some troops. However, the Prime Minister's office says the purpose of the conversation was to make the President aware of the report, not to apologise.

"You can expect us to deal with this in accordance with Australian law, but you can also expect us to deal with it understanding the full context of these alleged actions," Mr Morrison told Sunrise.

"What is in this report, which will be released by the CDF [Chief of the Defence Force] relates to some specific behaviour in a section of our ADF. And we've already, as you probably seen, many special forces, ex-service people have expressed their concerns about this and how this doesn't reflect the broader culture or the broader reputation of the ADF."

A read-out of the call provided by the Prime Minister's office says: "President Ghani appreciated the direct contact, noted the many Australians who had served with distinction in Afghanistan and said he was counting on Australia’s justice system to follow up on these matters."

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