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Investigations into Alleged Offences from Brereton Inquiry Ongoing

Updated: Mar 1

In 2016 Justice Brereton, a New South Wales Supreme Court judge and Army Reserve Major General, began an investigation into potential war crimes committed by Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel, spanning the period between 2005 and 2016. The report, titled the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force Afghanistan Inquiry Report, was released in 2020 and found credible information of war crimes having been committed by ADF personnel. The inquiry involved interviews with more 423 witnesses with investigators reviewing more than 25,000 images and more than 20,000 documents. At time of writing, no prosecutions have been made but investigations into between “40 and 50” alleged offences by the Office of the Special Investigator are ongoing.

A photo of soldiers in a desert in Afghanistan while a helicopter flies overhead. The cover of the"Inspector-General Of The Australian Defence Force Afghanistan Inquiry Report" is foregrounded along with text stating "The Brereton Report"


The inquiry found evidence of the Special Operations Task Group carrying ‘throwdowns’, which included foreign weapons or equipment such as grenades, pistols and small hand held radios (referred to as ICOMs). These were carried for the purpose of being placed at the body of enemies killed in action “in order to portray that the person killed had been carrying the weapon or other military equipment when engaged and was a legitimate target.”

The report notes that while the practice likely originated for the purpose of avoiding scrutiny in instances where “a person who was legitimately engaged turned out not to be armed” it then evolved into being used for the purpose of “concealing deliberate unlawful killings.”

In its glossary of acronyms and terms, the report defines a throwdown as a “Weapon, communication device, or electronic evidence to deliberately place at the scene of an incident to support a narrative that the incident was justified and was within ROE [Rules of Engagement] and the LOAC [Law of Armed Conflict]. The use of a throwdown implies intent to deceive.”


The inquiry also found evidence of junior soldiers being required by their commanders to “shoot a prisoner, in order to achieve the soldier’s first kill,” a practice referred to as ‘blooding’.

Throwdowns would also be placed alongside the body and the report states that a ‘cover story’ would be created “for the purposes of operational reporting and to deflect scrutiny,” and that “this was reinforced with a code of silence.”

Sources & Further Reading

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