Australia

Defence 'launches administrative action' against serving SAS soldiers following report into alleged war crimes

Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) partnered with Australian Special Forces from the Special Operations Task Group conducted a deliberate operation to clear Source: AAP/Dept of Defence

Several Australian Defence Force personnel who were implicated in a report into alleged war crimes in Afghanistan have reportedly received "show cause" notices.

The Department of Defence has reportedly launched “administrative action” against a number of serving soldiers in the wake of the damning Afghanistan war crimes inquiry.

The department said in a statement on Thursday it had initiated action against an unspecified number of personnel, with The ABC reporting at least 10 members of the Special Air Service Regiment had received "show cause" notices.

"Defence can confirm it has initiated administrative action against a number of serving Australian Defence Force personnel in accordance with legislation and defence policy," a department spokesperson said in a statement to SBS News.

The four-year investigation by Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force, Justice Paul Brereton, released last Thursday, found “credible information” that Australian Special Forces soldiers were involved in the unlawful killings of 39 Afghan civilians or prisoners.

The report identified 25 alleged perpetrators who were accused of being either principals or accessories to the killings. It recommended 19 be referred to the Australian Federal Police.

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According to the ABC, none of those currently facing administrative action are among the 19 recommended for police referral, but are suspected to have been "accessories" or "witnesses" to the alleged actions of other soldiers. 

"As the Chief of the Defence Force [CDF] said publicly last week, findings by the IGADF Afghanistan Inquiry of alleged negligence by individuals in the performance of their duties have been accepted by the CDF, and allegations will be managed through the ADF's administrative and disciplinary processes," the statement from defence said. 

Administrative actions are designed to "admonish and correct unsatisfactory or unacceptable performance" within the ADF and sit outside the Defence Force Discipline Act, which prosecutes for disciplinary offences.

They can include formal warnings and censures, termination of notice, reduction in rank, removal from an appointment or locality, denial or delay of a promotion or change to an employment category. 

Those members facing action reportedly have at least 14 days to respond. 

With additional reporting by AAP 

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