Minister for Defence Stephen Smith — Update: Afghanistan Detainee Management

Last Decem­ber I announced the details of Australia’s detainee man­age­ment frame­work in Afghanistan fol­low­ing the Dutch with­draw­al from Uruz­gan Province on 1 August 2010.
At the same time, I com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing reg­u­lar updates on devel­op­ments in detainee man­age­ment in Afghanistan.

Aus­tralia takes its respon­si­bil­i­ties for the humane treat­ment of detainees seri­ous­ly. Australia’s detainee man­age­ment frame­work draws on applic­a­ble inter­na­tion­al stan­dards and is con­sis­tent with inter­na­tion­al human­i­tar­i­an and human rights law, as well as Aus­tralian domes­tic law.

Under the detainee man­age­ment frame­work, detainees appre­hend­ed by the Aus­tralian Defence Force (ADF) are trans­ferred either to Afghan or Unit­ed States cus­tody, or released if there is insuf­fi­cient evi­dence to jus­ti­fy ongo­ing deten­tion.

From 1 August 2010 to 13 Feb­ru­ary 2011, Aus­tralia appre­hend­ed 425 detainees. Of these, 80 have been trans­ferred to Afghan or Unit­ed States author­i­ties. The remain­der have been released fol­low­ing ini­tial screen­ing.

Aus­tralia has in place arrange­ments with the Gov­ern­ments of Afghanistan and the Unit­ed States to gov­ern all detainee trans­fers, which include assur­ances on the humane treat­ment of detainees and access to those detainees by Aus­tralian offi­cials and human­i­tar­i­an organ­i­sa­tions to mon­i­tor their ongo­ing wel­fare.

Australia’s detainee mon­i­tor­ing teams mon­i­tor the wel­fare and deten­tion con­di­tions of ADF-appre­hend­ed detainees while they are in Unit­ed States or Afghan cus­tody until they are either released or sen­tenced. The mon­i­tor­ing team vis­its each ADF-appre­hend­ed detainee short­ly after trans­fer and approx­i­mate­ly every four weeks after the ini­tial vis­it.

All alle­ga­tions of mis­treat­ment against ADF-appre­hend­ed detainees are ful­ly inves­ti­gat­ed.

Since 1 August 2010, 8 alle­ga­tions (from 6 detainees), have been made and thor­ough­ly inves­ti­gat­ed. These alle­ga­tions have been found to have had no sub­stance and have been dis­missed. Since 1 Jan­u­ary 2011 one alle­ga­tion has been made . The alle­ga­tion was thor­ough­ly inves­ti­gat­ed and found to have had no sub­stance and has been dis­missed. These alle­ga­tions and the out­come of the com­pre­hen­sive inves­ti­ga­tions is report­ed in full to the Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force (ISAF) and appro­pri­ate human­i­tar­i­an organ­i­sa­tions.

In keep­ing with the com­mit­ment to be open and trans­par­ent on detainee man­age­ment mat­ters, I also advise that, in late Jan­u­ary, the Aus­tralian Defence Force Inves­tiga­tive Ser­vice (ADFIS) ini­ti­at­ed an inves­ti­ga­tion into alle­ga­tions made by a Defence mem­ber that mem­bers of the Deten­tion Man­age­ment Team in Afghanistan, respon­si­ble for man­ag­ing the ADF detainee screen­ing facil­i­ty at Multi­na­tion­al Base-Tarin Kot, may not have com­plied with pro­ce­dures relat­ing to the man­age­ment and admin­is­tra­tive pro­cess­ing of detainees.

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

I will make the results of the inves­ti­ga­tion pub­lic in due course.

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.

The CDF will report the out­comes of this action to me in the near future.

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.

As well, I under­took to pro­vide details on the num­bers of detainees who have been cap­tured, released and sub­se­quent­ly recap­tured by Aus­tralian forces.

Since 1 August 2010, I am advised the ADF have cap­tured four peo­ple who were sub­se­quent­ly released, then recap­tured.

The ADF does not con­tin­ue to detain peo­ple if there is a lack of evi­dence which shows that deten­tion is jus­ti­fied.

Three of the indi­vid­u­als in ques­tion were released on both occa­sions as there was insuf­fi­cient evi­dence to war­rant their con­tin­ued deten­tion.

In the case of the fourth indi­vid­ual, the sec­ond time he was appre­hend­ed there was suf­fi­cient evi­dence to pro­vide a con­clu­sive link to the insur­gency. In accor­dance with Australia’s detainee man­age­ment frame­work, he was trans­ferred to the Deten­tion Facil­i­ty in Par­wan.

I will con­tin­ue to pro­vide reg­u­lar updates, includ­ing to Par­lia­ment, on detainee man­age­ment mat­ters in Afghanistan.

Media Con­tact
Mr Smith’s Office: Mary Bag­nall (02) 6277 7800 or 0434 665 067
Depart­ment: (02) 6127 1999 or 0408 498 664

Press release
Min­is­te­r­i­al Sup­port and Pub­lic Affairs,
Depart­ment of Defence,
Can­ber­ra, Aus­tralia

More news and arti­cles can be found on Face­book and Twit­ter.

Fol­low GlobalDefence.net on Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →