Australian PM calls for top army officers to share blame for Afghan war crimes
Published: Nov 29, 2020 10:02 AM

Photo taken on Nov. 22, 2020 shows the relatives holding pictures of Afghan victims killed by Australian troops during military operations in Tirinkot, capital of Afghanistan's Uruzgan province. (Xinhua/Sharafat)

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called for senior defence force officers to be held accountable for war crimes allegedly committed by soldiers in Afghanistan.

The government on Nov. 19 released the findings of a landmark four-year war crimes inquiry, which found "credible evidence" that Australian soldiers murdered 39 prisoners and civilians in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2016, recommending criminal proceedings against the soldiers.

Morrison revealed on Friday that he has advised that senior officers face disciplinary action for allowing the "warrior culture" identified by the inquiry to develop in the special forces.

The relatives of Afghan victims killed by Australian troops during military operations pray at a tomb in Tirinkot, capital of Afghanistan's Uruzgan province, Nov. 22, 2020. (Xinhua/Sharafat)

"In each case, it's important that not only is there accountability in the defence forces for individual alleged acts, but also in the chain of command about those who had responsibilities and accountabilities in that chain of command," he said.

"That's what I expect to be done. That's what I've made very clear through the Defence Minister, who has made that point to both the Chief of the Defence Force as well as the oversight panel," he said.

His comments came as Army Chief Rick Burr confirmed that 13 soldiers who were "accessories" or "witnesses" of alleged murders have been issued show cause notices, giving them 14 days to show why they should not be dismissed from the Australian Defence Force.

"This whole process will take time, and we will do this work methodically, deliberately, and in accordance with established process," Burr told reporters.