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.
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.