Afghanistan/Australia — Paper presented by the Minister for Defence on casualties, procedural issues etc.

In late Jan­u­ary, the Aus­tralian Defence Force Inves­tiga­tive Ser­vice (ADFIS) ini­ti­at­ed an inves­ti­ga­tion into alle­ga­tions of non-com­pli­ance with the man­age­ment and admin­is­tra­tive pro­ce­dures for the pro­cess­ing of detainees at the ADF detainee screen­ing facility. 

These alle­ga­tions have been and are being tak­en very seri­ous­ly and a full inves­ti­ga­tion by ADFIS is underway. 

In report­ing the inves­ti­ga­tion to me, the act­ing Chief of the Defence Force (CDF) also advised that some fail­ures of the CCTV record­ing sys­tem, which oper­ates at the ADF screen­ing facil­i­ty, had been identified. 

The ADF is address­ing this seri­ous CCTV issue and has begun to put in place pro­ce­dures to resolve the mat­ter, includ­ing imme­di­ate action to ensure con­tin­u­ous footage is being record­ed and archived. 

A fur­ther pro­ce­dur­al issue has arisen in rela­tion to the process for the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of juve­nile detainees. 

Two detainees trans­ferred by the Aus­tralian Defence Force to Afghan and Unit­ed States cus­tody were sub­se­quent­ly iden­ti­fied as juve­niles under the age of eighteen. 

Fur­ther action is being tak­en to ensure that the poli­cies and process­es in place with respect to the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of juve­niles are appro­pri­ate. I will advise fur­ther about this aspect of detainee man­age­ment in due course. 

Not only is Aus­tralia com­mit­ted to hold­ing our own per­son­nel to the high­est stan­dards on detainee man­age­ment, if ADF per­son­nel become aware of con­cerns regard­ing the treat­ment of detainees by our Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force (ISAF) or Afghan part­ners, we also treat this with the utmost seriousness. 

In this respect, I advise that, in ear­ly Feb­ru­ary, Aus­tralian sol­diers wit­nessed an inci­dent that occurred dur­ing an Afghan deten­tion oper­a­tion in Uruz­gan Province. 

At the time of the inci­dent, Aus­tralian sol­diers were oper­at­ing some dis­tance from Afghan Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Forces. 

Aus­tralia has raised the mat­ter with the Afghan Gov­ern­ment and ISAF and asked that the mat­ter be ful­ly investigated. 

ISAF Joint Com­mand will par­tic­i­pate in an inves­ti­ga­tion led by the Afghan Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Forces. 

Con­tin­u­ous Review

It is impor­tant that we keep our detainee arrange­ments under review to ensure that they con­tin­ue to meet the dual objec­tives of pro­vid­ing force pro­tec­tion to our troops and ensur­ing the humane treat­ment of detainees. 

In addi­tion to the issues already raised, the Gov­ern­ment has three such detainee man­age­ment issues under consideration. 

The first issue is the appro­pri­ate­ness of the length of deten­tion in the Aus­tralian Ini­tial Screen­ing Area to enable the pos­si­ble col­lec­tion of fur­ther infor­ma­tion by Australia. 

The sec­ond issue con­cerns con­tin­gency arrange­ments for the man­age­ment of detainees cap­tured out­side of Uruz­gan, for exam­ple Kandahar. 

The third issue regards the cur­rent require­ment for an ini­tial detainee mon­i­tor­ing vis­it to occur with­in 72 hours after a detainee is trans­fered from the Aus­tralian Ini­tial Screen­ing Area to US or Afghan custody. 

I will con­tin­ue to pro­vide reg­u­lar pub­lic updates, includ­ing to the Par­lia­ment, on the issues I have raised in this state­ment and detainee man­age­ment issues more broadly. 

Team GlobDef

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