Inspector General of the Australian Defense Forces Afghanistan (IGADF) Investigation report, commonly known as the Brereton Report, released in November 2020, details how Australian special forces in Afghanistan have committed at least 39 illegal homicides.
The report’s findings, while not surprising to most Afghans, rocked the defense community and the Australian government, and reduced Australia’s role in the region. The report, while being edited, details how the killings as a result of “criminal conduct” were “initiated, executed, continued and concealed at the patrol command level” .
The Inspector General concluded that it was “the most disgraceful episode in Australia’s military history.”
But as the details around the incident began to come out, the abuses appeared more and more. Australian journalist and photographer Andrew Quilty has spent many years investigating allegations of murder and unlawful abuse against Afghans by the Australian Special Operations Task Force (SOTG).
Quilty, in a recent report for Monthly magazine, staff from the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission office in Uruzgan told him in January that since the Brereton Report was released, they have made 38 homicides and abuse requests, in total. 122 people were killed, including 28 women and children, and 40 were injured.
“Twenty to 25 of them are brand new cases that we have never known before,” Haji Abdul Ahad Bahai, head of the committee’s office, told Quilty, who has recorded a total of 25. Deaths during the trip reported to Tirin Kot, capital of Uruzgan province.
“To be fair, the IGADF Investigation Report does not represent anywhere near the full extent of the violation that SOTG has committed,” Quilty, who lives in Afghanistan, told The Diplomat.
Despite Quilty’s recent findings, Australia has done nothing to account for the most recent revelations. Quilty believes this is partly due to Australia’s reluctance to continue a conversation that harms their national standing and has so far moved away from what Australians normally pay attention to.
“To the Australian public, the government and the ADF as a whole, the allegations of war crimes against the country’s most revered soldiers are deeply troubling, but what’s worrying is that certain segments of the population they believe that these units and their commanders should not be blamed, especially when their alleged actions undermine their mission and, therefore, Australia’s national interests, ” he said.
Since the allegations were first made public, very few people in Australia have accepted any responsibility. One of the accused who filed defamation cases against news organizations reported the charges against him.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison rejected the report’s recommendation to provide compensation to the victims, while Defense Secretary Peter Dutton earlier this week announced that he will not revoke unit citations given to members of SOTG, for which Quilty says the government is “prioritizing the welfare of the accused over the victim.”
A local tribal elder told Quilty he had had very little hope from the report.
“First, I don’t believe they will help people or act on reports. Second, they won’t be able to help all the victims because not just  among them… This number does not represent even a small part of reality, ”he said.
Quilty said in addition to arguments about moral responsibility and justice for victims, the allegations not only represent failure to implement national military strategy and foreign policy, but also allow for Active activity weakens them.
“My report links SOTG’s behavior with the recruitment of the Taliban… For anyone who believes in the need for our alliances, such as the US, imagine the Secretary of Defense. Ky is looking for a partner in a hypothetical future conflict, and whether you will ask for assistance from a special forces soldier with a history of sabotaging his own missions, ”he said.
“In that sense, any leverage the Australian military may have given the Australian government regarding a strategic partnership prior to its military entry in Afghanistan is likely to be less valuable than it is now. unless there is real action to bring the perpetrators accused of war crimes to justice and settle them. the problems allow them to happen in the first place. “