Defence Force chief backs mandatory body cameras for soldiers

Canberra, Nov 22: Chief of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) Angus Campbell on Sunday threw his support behind mandatory body cameras for soldiers in the wake of a landmark war crimes inquiry.

Addressing the media, Campbell said that introducing body cameras would increase accountability within the special forces serving in Afghanistan after a four-year inquiry found “credible evidence” that Australian soldiers committed 39 unlawful killings in the country between 2005 and 2016.

The inquiry also uncovered a series of cover-ups undertaken by the Australian soldiers.

“We will work through that recommendation (of body cameras). I think it is a very good idea. It creates a degree of objectivity and a capacity for learning, development and record keeping,” Campbell told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) in his first interview since the report was released on November 19.

“That material would become a digital archive, permanently and securely held so that if claims were to arise, they would be, they would contribute to understanding what may have happened,” he said.

The alleged war crimes committed by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan during their military mission have drawn strong reaction from Kabul government, which condemned the killings of innocent people.

It has asked for more investigations into the issue, the punishment of the perpetrators and compensation from the Australian government to the Afghan victims’ families.

The ABC has previously published eyewitness accounts of shootings of unarmed Afghan civilians by Australian special forces soldiers.

The Inspector-General of the ADF (IGADF) has been conducting a wide-ranging but highly secretive inquiry into allegations that Australian special forces members committed war crimes, including the murder of civilians, in Afghanistan since early 2016, according to the ABC.

The report is expected to be completed before the end of the year.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has vowed that allegations of war crimes committed by Australian soldiers would be pursued until “justice is indeed served”.