While accusations of war crimes are being levied against the Australian special forces, Defense Minister Marise Payne remains a staunch defender of the chaotic and complex work environments the government soldiers must work in. The government is simultaneously looking into claims that soldiers may have committed war crimes in Afghanistan.
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Fairfax Media published a confidential defense inquiry report that alleges misconduct occurred during special forces deployments to Afghanistan. The inquiry told of unsanctioned and illegal application of violence while on deployment as well as a blatant disregard for human life. The worst part of the report details an incident where an Australian special forces soldier allegedly kicked a handcuffed Afghan detainee off of a cliff.
Ali Jan was a shepherd and father of seven children who had been rounded up during a search for a rogue Afghan National Army sergeant who killed three Australian soldiers. The report alleges that Jan was kicked off a cliff about a river bed by an Australian soldier and later executed. Senator Payne defended the special forces of Australia and reminded people that the operations troops engage in are complex, chaotic, and very dangerous environments.
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A statement from the senator said, "As Australians would expect, these allegations must be - and are being - thoroughly examined, independently from the chain of command." Payne also confirmed the inquiry into whether there was any wrongdoing was started in May 2016 at the request of the chief of the army and chief of the defense force.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said, "I regard soldiers of the SAS as some of our finest. These are men who are prepared to put their life on the line in conflict situations to defend us and defend our freedoms." While Labor defense spokesman Richard Marles said, "Our soldiers, particularly our special forces, work in difficult and complex environments. It’s important that we know, as a country, that they’re doing it in a professional and legal way."
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