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Australian Defence Force interrogation capability deployed to Afghanistan



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Minister for Defence - Australian Defence Force interrogation capability deployed to Afghanistan

1 February 2012

In November 2011, I announced that the Australian Government had approved the

deployment of trained interrogators to Afghanistan to question detainees apprehended

during operations by the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and identified as suitable for

interrogation.

Today I announce that this capability has deployed to Afghanistan and will commence

activities shortly.

The deployment of this capability will enable the ADF to play a greater role in the

collection of vital information, and will support the protection of Australian and

International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) personnel and the local population. It

will also assist in the potential prosecution of detainees through the Afghan justice

system.

Interrogation is a comprehensive questioning process which is aimed at collecting

intelligence. It is conducted within strict legal guidelines to prevent physical and

mental mistreatment.

ADF interrogators are highly-trained and ethical professionals. Their duties in

Afghanistan will be in accordance with stringent guidelines and will strictly comply

with Australian international and domestic legal obligations. It will be limited to

approved methods.

In support of this capability, I also announced in November that the Government had

agreed to extend the time selected detainees could be held in Australian custody at

the Initial Screening Area in Tarin Kot, prior to their release or transfer, for the

purposes of comprehensive screening. This will allow the ADF more time to determine

whether an individual should be released or transferred, or has knowledge which

could assist the ADF and our ISAF and Afghan partners.

The length of time for which detainees can be held in the Initial Screening Area may

be extended beyond the current 96 hours (4 days) for an additional three days, and a

possible further extension of three days.

This approach is consistent with the interrogation timelines of our ISAF partners.

While 96 hours is appropriate for our previous role in basic screening, a longer period

of time may be required for more complex questioning of detainees of interest.

Only detainees who are assessed by intelligence professionals as potentially having

information that would make a material difference to the safety of ISAF personnel and

the local population will be held beyond 96 hours.

Australia will continue, within the current ISAF-mandated timeframe of 96 hours, to

establish whether a detainee should be released, transferred or be detained for a

longer period.

If sufficient evidence is available, detainees may be transferred to the custody of the

Afghan National Directorate of Security at Tarin Kot or to the US-run Detention

Facility in Parwan. Detainees are released if there is insufficient evidence to link them

to the insurgency.

Physical or mental mistreatment will have no place in this interrogation.

Under Australia’s detainee management framework, the ADF screens and questions

detainees in a purpose-built facility, which is open to inspection by humanitarian

organisations.

A monitoring team of Australian officials regularly visits transferred detainees to

monitor their welfare and standards of treatment.

The proposed interrogation of ADF-apprehended detainees has seen the installation of

a new Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) system. This new CCTV system replaces the

existing system within the Initial Screening Area, and has been designed and

purpose-built to support the conduct of the interrogation and questioning of

detainees.

The new system has been upgraded to include a greater number of cameras and

improved redundancy measures to ensure that all interrogation sessions are

monitored. The recording and monitoring of these sessions will support the ADF and

the Government’s commitment to transparency on detainee management issues in

Afghanistan.

I will continue to provide regular public updates on detainee management matters

and this interrogation capability including as part of my regular reporting to

Parliament on Afghanistan.

Australia takes its responsibilities for detainee management seriously, and ensures

that detainees in Australian custody are treated humanely, with dignity and respect,

in accordance with our international and domestic legal obligations.

Media Contacts:

Mr Smith’s Office: Andrew Porter (02) 6277 7800 or 0419 474 392

Department of Defence: (02) 6127 1999