Afghanistan war crimes: Australia faces the facts

The soldiers of an Australian elite unit are suspected of committing war crimes in Afghanistan. An investigation found that they "unlawfully killed" at least 39 civilians and prisoners between 2009 and 2013. The commander-in-chief of the Australian armed forces, General Angus Campbell, announced that the crimes would be prosecuted under criminal law. Shocked reactions from Europe's press.

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Naftemporiki (GR) /

Training in killing

The report denounces the elite unit for its "egocentric warrior culture". Naftemporiki describes what this is and what impact it had:

“The report mentions cases in which new troops were allegedly forced to shoot prisoners in order to commit their first killing: a dreadful practice known as 'blooding'. Bloodshed as training in killing. They practised murder due to a lack of control over their 'warrior culture'. What is this? A lack of empathy, an absolute inability to feel something for other people? What is this culture of warriors that also has a strong presence on social media? ... Dehumanisation is the first step towards committing atrocities.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

Perhaps even a case for The Hague

All things considered, the Australian government is behaving in an exemplary way, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung comments:

“However, the acts that Australian soldiers are said to have committed in Afghanistan are also terrifying in their cruelty. ... If some acts were a sort of ritual for new members of the troop - as was apparently the case with the Australians - critical questions must be put to the military and political leaders of the armed forces. What's more: this could even be a case for The Hague. Armies are not allowed to lead a life of their own, especially not in democracies. ... It's good that Australian democracy is apparently strong enough to bring the brutal truths from Afghanistan to light.”