Release of Inquiry Officer Report in 2 November 2010 Civilian Casualty Incident
21 September 2012
Defence has finalised an Inquiry into an alleged civilian casualty incident during a partnered Mentoring Task Force and Afghan National Army patrol in the Baluchi Valley region of Uruzgan province in November 2010. The inquiry was initiated by the then Chief of Joint Operations, Lieutenant General Mark Evans.
Afghan and Australian soldiers were fired on from a series of qualas (walled, mud-brick compounds) during the incident. At the conclusion of the engagements, one Afghan National Army soldier was superficially wounded, an Afghan teenage male was found to be deceased and a further two Afghan men were identified as injured.
The current Chief of Joint Operations, Lieutenant General Ash Power, said the Inquiry Officer was unable to make a definitive finding as to who shot the three Afghans.
“The Inquiry Officer found that on the balance of probabilities it was highly unlikely that the deceased teenage male and the two injured Afghan men were hit by Australian fire,” Lieutenant General Power said.
“He was unable to determine whether insurgent fire or the Afghan National Army response during the incident caused the death and injuries.”
The Inquiry Officer concluded that it was likely the deceased Afghan teenager and the two injured Afghan men were not directly participating in hostilities at the time they were shot and they could be reasonably classified as civilians.
The Inquiry Officer made a number of recommendations. Those recommendations have now been implemented.
Lieutenant General Power said he was satisfied that the Australian personnel involved in the incident acted in accordance with the Laws of Armed Conflict and showed great personal courage in controlling a complex situation.
“Having reviewed the report, I am satisfied that our soldiers did the right thing and their actions were not only in accordance with their legal responsibilities, but also with their moral responsibilities as mentors and representatives of the Australian Defence Force,” Lieutenant General Power said.
“Unfortunately, this incident again highlights the traumatic impact on Afghan families when insurgents choose to engage ISAF and Afghan National Army patrols from civilian populated areas.”
The outcomes of the Inquiry have been briefed to ISAF and to the Afghan authorities.
A redacted copy of the Inquiry Officer Report is now available at: http://www.defence.gov.au/coi/reports/IOR_Incident_During_ADF-ANA_Partnered_Patrol_2Nov2010_Redacted.pdf
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999