Australia complicit in illegal military detention

Despite repeated
denials by the Department of Defence, new evidence is emerging that points to
Australia’s involvement in the illegal detention of prisoners in

‘The Australian
Government has always maintained it had no involvement in so-called secret
prisons in Iraq,’ the chief executive of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre
(PIAC), Edward Santow, said today.

‘But an official US
report obtained by the Guardian
suggests otherwise. The report apparently says that the Australian military
played an ‘integral part of operations’ at a secret Iraqi prison known as H1.
If true, this is deeply troubling,’ Mr Santow said.

So-called secret
prisons operate contrary to the Geneva Conventions and international
humanitarian law. They don’t allow prisoners to be formally registered and they
don’t allow visits by the International Committee of the Red Cross. It is
unclear whether prisoners are treated humanely in such facilities.

PIAC has been
investigating Australia’s role in Iraqi military detentions.

‘PIAC has obtained a number of previously classified
and confidential documents relating to Australia’s involvement in the conflicts
in Afghanistan and Iraq. PIAC believes that these documents contain a number of
important revelations,’ Mr Santow said.

‘The Australian Government deliberately tried to avoid its obligations under international law in
relation to alleged combatants captured by the Australian Defence Force in
Afghanistan and Iraq.

detainee policy had disastrous consequences.

‘The Australian
Government has said that the first it new of prisoner mistreatment was when
details of the Abu Ghraib torture and mistreatment became public.

‘But PIAC’s
investigations have showed that the Australian military knew about the
disturbing practices in Abu Ghraib and elsewhere well before the media broke
the story. 

‘These latest
revelations raise further questions about what Australian authorities knew, how
the Australian Defence Force was involved, and when.

‘Despite Department
of Defence denials, it is becoming clear that Australia was complicit in
breaches of international law.

‘We need a
Royal Commission to get to the bottom of these allegations, and to ensure that
the Australian military now complies fully with the Geneva Conventions and
international law,’ Mr Santow said.

PIAC Media and Communications Officer, Dominic O’Grady: 0400 110 169.

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