Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee—Senate Standing—Operation of the Australian Defence Force’s resistance to interrogation training—Report, dated March 2017


Download PDF Download PDF

The Senate

Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade

References Committee

Operation of the Australian Defence Force's resistance to interrogation training

March 2017

ii

 Commonwealth of Australia 2017

ISBN 978-1-76010-535-8

Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee Department of the Senate PO Box 6100 Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600 Australia

Phone: + 61 2 6277 3535 Fax: + 61 2 6277 5818 Email: fadt.sen@aph.gov.au Internet: http://www.aph.gov.au/senate_fadt

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License.

The details of this licence are available on the Creative Commons website: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/au/

Printed by the Senate Printing Unit, Parliament House, Canberra.

iii

Committee Membership

Senator Alex Gallacher, Chair ALP, SA

Senator Chris Back, Deputy Chair LP, WA

Senator David Fawcett LP, SA

Senator Kimberley Kitching ALP, VIC

Senator Scott Ludlam AG, WA

Senator Claire Moore ALP, QLD

Participating members who contributed to this inquiry

Senator Jacqui Lambie JLN, TAS

Senator Skye Kakoschke-Moore NXT, SA

Secretariat

Mr David Sullivan, Committee Secretary

Mr Owen Griffiths, Principal Research Officer

Ms Suzanne O'Neill, Senior Research Officer

Ms Kimberley Balaga, Research Officer

Ms Shannon Ross, Administrative Officer

iv

Table of Contents

Committee Membership ................................................................................... iii

Recommendations .............................................................................................vii

Chapter 1.............................................................................................................. 1

Introduction .............................................................................................................. 1

Referral and conduct of inquiry .............................................................................. 1

Background ............................................................................................................. 1

Structure of the report ............................................................................................. 3

Chapter 2.............................................................................................................. 5

Issues raised in evidence .......................................................................................... 5

Introduction ............................................................................................................ 5

Resistance to interrogation training framework ..................................................... 5

Training methods .................................................................................................... 6

Risk of harm ........................................................................................................... 8

Informed consent .................................................................................................. 10

Issues related to activity staff ............................................................................... 11

Value of training ................................................................................................... 13

Compliance with the law ...................................................................................... 14

Chapter 3............................................................................................................ 15

Conclusion and recommendations ........................................................................ 15

Introduction .......................................................................................................... 15

Consent ................................................................................................................. 15

Duty of care .......................................................................................................... 16

Additional Comments from Senator Jacqui Lambie .................................... 19

Concurring with the Committee Report .............................................................. 19

Appendix 1 ......................................................................................................... 21

Submissions ............................................................................................................. 21

vi

Recommendations

Recommendation 1

3.6 The committee recommends that participants in Conduct after Capture training are provided with all the relevant information on the nature of the training activity before they sign a volunteer declaration form.

Recommendation 2

3.8 The committee recommends that Conduct after Capture Level B briefings be revised to include information on the risk of physical and psychological injury that may occur as a result of participation in Level C training activities.

Recommendation 3

3.10 The committee recommends that the Department of Defence implement independent screening of individuals who have participated in Level C activities to identify and treat psychological injuries.

Recommendation 4

3.13 The committee recommends that the Department of Defence conduct an audit of its records to identify all former RTI and CAC training participants and provide information on avenues available to treat physical and psychological injuries arising from training.

Recommendation 5

3.16 The committee recommends that the Department of Defence retain medical and service records of individuals' involvement in Level C activities and ensure this information is accessible by the Department of Veterans' Affairs.

viii

Chapter 1 Introduction

Referral and conduct of inquiry 1.1 On 10 November 2016, the Senate referred an inquiry into the operation of the Australian Defence Force's (ADF's) resistance to interrogation (RTI) training to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee for inquiry and report by 20 March 2017. On 20 March 2017 the Senate agreed to extend the reporting date to 27 March 2017. The terms of references for the inquiry include:

(a) what training methods are used;

(b) whether these training methods are in accordance with Australia’s international obligations and Australian domestic laws;

(c) the effectiveness of existing ADF supervisory control measures;

(d) the ongoing mental health and wellbeing of personnel who have participated in RTI training; and

(e) the matters raised in questions to Lieutenant General Campbell during the 2015-16 additional estimates.

1.2 The motion to refer the inquiry also provided that the Senate:

(a) notes that Lieutenant General Campbell acknowledged, during estimates questioning, that video and other electronic records were made by the ADF of RTI training; and

(b) calls on the Minister for Defence (Senator Payne) to provide the committee, under special circumstances which protect serving and former ADF personnel identities and operational security, with all recordings made by the ADF of RTI training by 28 December 2016 to assist the committee with the inquiry.

1.3 The committee advertised the inquiry on its website and wrote to individuals and organisations likely have an interest in the inquiry and invited them to make written submissions. The committee received 10 submissions to the inquiry which are listed at Appendix 1. A number of submissions which included details about the content, training methods and survival strategies exercised after RTI training were received in camera, but subsequently published with this information redacted.

Background 1.4 During the previous (44th) parliament, an inquiry with identical terms of reference was referred to the committee on 29 February 2016 for inquiry and report by 1 May 2016 (subsequently extended to 28 June 2016). The reference included a requirement for the Minister for Defence, the Hon Marise Payne, to provide the committee with all RTI training recordings. Public interest in Defence's RTI training activities followed media reporting in February 2016 of SAS Trooper Evan Donaldson's long-running dispute with Defence and DVA arising from the RTI training he completed in 2006. Trooper Donaldson alleged he was assaulted and injured during the training which resulted in lasting psychological damage.

2

1.5 Defence was questioned about its RTI training activities during the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee's additional estimates hearing in February 2016. The Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Angus Campbell, was questioned about the nature of the training, but he declined to answer the questions due to their sensitive nature.

1.6 In March 2016, the Chief of Army wrote to the committee in relation to a Senate motion requesting that the committee be given access to all recordings made by the ADF of RTI training. While the Chief of Army agreed to provide sample video recordings under appropriate arrangements to maintain the integrity of the training, he stressed:

The provision of what amounts to thousands of hours of video is not practical and I respectfully request that the committee consider viewing a sample of video from various stages of the training, which could then be narrated and described in person by a subject matter expert…Also, to ensure careful management of the video footage, I would prefer that it is viewed at Russell Offices where I can ensure the necessary security controls are established and maintained.1

1.7 In further correspondence with the committee in April 2016, the Chief of Army drew attention to what he considered were 'real and serious risks' to ADF personnel should sensitive information about RTI techniques and procedures be made publicly available. Publication of submissions which contain such material could enable an enemy to '…alter their tactics, techniques and procedures in order to improve their chances of successfully exploiting detained captured ADF personnel'.2

1.8 That inquiry lapsed with the dissolution of the Senate on 9 May 2016 ahead of the 2 July 2016 federal election. The video package being put together by Defence was not finalised by that time. The committee received six submissions for that inquiry but no public hearings were held.

1.9 At the commencement of the 45th Parliament, the committee recommended to the Senate that the inquiry not be re-adopted in the 45th Parliament. The Senate at the time agreed to the committee's recommendation.

Handling and consideration of sensitive evidence

1.10 On 21 November 2016, following referral of the inquiry to the committee for a second time, the Senate agreed to a motion ordering the Minister for Defence to table all recordings of the ADF's resistance to interrogation training programs by no later than 3.30pm on 28 November 2016.

1.11 The minister's response was presented out of session on 25 November and tabled in the Senate on 28 November. It outlined a number of reasons why the provision of thousands of hours of video 'is not practical' including national security

1 Committee correspondence dated 24 March 2016.

2 Committee correspondence dated 5 April 2016.

3

considerations, health and safety, duty of care and privacy requirements, and the need to seek the consent of all individuals who appear in the videos.

1.12 The Minister's response requested that the Senate:

…agree to the committee viewing a sample of video from various stages of the training, which could then be narrated and described in person by a subject matter expert as part of the broader Senate inquiry. This would complement Defence's submission.3

1.13 Consistent with the Minister's response, a sample video was made available for the committee to view in private session on 6 February 2017 at Russell Offices, as requested by Defence, along with a confidential briefing by a subject-matter expert.

1.14 The committee held one in camera hearing on 7 March 2017. The committee agreed to include in its report evidence from the hearing that would enable readers to understand the basis of the committee's findings and recommendations, while also maintaining the anonymity of witnesses. This evidence includes some non-sensitive information provided by Defence in response to questions taken on notice. The committee informed witnesses in advance of its intention to publish some of their evidence and invited any objections to publication. No objections were raised with the committee.

Structure of the report 1.15 Chapter 2 provides a brief overview of the main issues raised in evidence during the inquiry. Chapter 3 includes the committee's conclusions and recommendations.

3 Committee correspondence dated 25 November 2016.

4

Chapter 2

Issues raised in evidence

Introduction 2.1 This chapter summarises the main issues raised in public evidence, including the structure of Resistance to Interrogation (RTI) training, the process around the consent provided by Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel who participate in the training, the potential for physical and psychological harm, the benefits of training and whether the training complies with Australia's domestic and international legal obligations.

Resistance to interrogation training framework 2.2 All military operations conducted overseas carry some risk that ADF personnel may be captured, detained, interrogated and exploited by an adversary, threat group, foreign military or foreign government.1

2.3 To mitigate this risk, the ADF incorporates an element into its Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape program that teaches participants how to behave in the event that they are captured. Previously known as RTI training, the activity simulates the realistic captivity of participants by using trainers to role-play as threat forces in a variety of scenarios.2

2.4 Defence conducted a review of RTI training in 2004, which incorporated improvements to safety and accountability. According to Defence:

The review aimed to ensure that the sensitive and demanding training was robustly controlled and monitored, while continuing to prepare ADF members to cope with incarceration, detention and exploitation. The review initiated a re-write of the overarching Defence policy with the intent of aligning Defence practices with our principal allies…3

2.5 Following the internal review, changes to RTI training were planned in 2005, and carried out in 2006, after which the training was renamed Conduct after Capture (CAC) training.

2.6 Conduct after Capture training includes three levels:

(1) Level A: An introductory computer based package that provides a basic awareness of the ADF Conduct after Capture policy;

(2) Level B: A one-day theory workshop covering Introduction to Conduct after Capture, Hostage Survival, Foreign Government Detention,

1 Department of Defence, Submission 8, p. 2

2 Department of Defence, Submission 8, p. 2.

3 Department of Defence, answer to question on notice.

6

Military Exploitation, Common Survival Strategies and a Level C activity brief; and

(3) Level C: Practical immersion training for identified 'prone-to-capture' personnel such as special forces personnel. The activity includes the three Conduct after Capture scenarios of Foreign Government Detention, Hostage Survival and Military Exploitation.4

2.7 According to Defence, CAC training is conducted in a humane and lawful manner and 'mentally prepares ADF "prone-to-capture" personnel for the rigours of captivity whilst teaching them how to survive a capture situation and return to Australia with dignity'.5 Defence argued that CAC training is consistent with coalition and NATO partner best practices.6

2.8 The committee received evidence from former participants of both RTI and CAC training. As upgrades to the training were incorporated following the 2004 review, it is important to distinguish whether evidence received refers to pre-2004 or post-2004 activities. Throughout this report, evidence is either attributed to 'RTI' or 'CAC' participants in order to indicate which model the criticisms are related to.

2.9 Not all submitters were critical of the objectives of the training. A former RTI participant argued that exposure to interrogation scenarios is essential for identified personnel. The individual argued that teaching techniques for dealing with captivity and exploitation in a safe and controlled environment mentally prepares personnel and provides guidance on how to survive with dignity.

2.10 It was also argued that RTI training ensures that Defence is able to exercise duty of care. One submitter argued that the training allows Defence to mitigate risk of harm to individuals as well as reduce potential harm to operations.7

Training methods 2.11 The Defence submission advised that the detailed content, training methods and survival strategies of Level C practical immersion activities are sensitive from an operational security perspective and should not be on the public record:

An understanding of ADF Conduct after Capture techniques and procedures by an enemy or threat force would enable them to alter their tactics, techniques and procedures to improve their chances of successfully exploiting detained or captured ADF personnel. In a worst case scenario, this could pose a risk to the lives of ADF personnel captured or detained in the future.8

4 Department of Defence, Submission 8, p. 3.

5 Department of Defence, Submission 8, p. 6.

6 In camera hearing, 7 March 2017.

7 Name Withheld, Submission 2, pp 3-6.

8 Department of Defence, Submission 8, p. 5.

7

2.12 Level C activities require Resistance Trainers to role-play as threat forces and use interrogation techniques, such as mental and physical stressors, on participants to replicate realistic captivity situations. Participants are trained to behave, resist exploitation, and survive with dignity in the following scenarios:

(a) Foreign Government Detention: This module is conducted over a 12-24 hour period and provides ADF personnel with survival strategies, coping mechanisms and experience in how to behave during detention by officials from a foreign government. The scenario for this module is that Australia may or may not be involved in an armed conflict with the second country;

(b) Hostage Survival: This module is conducted over a 12-24 hour period and provides ADF personnel with survival strategies, coping mechanisms and experience in how to behave during detention by a terrorist or criminal organisation; and

(c) Military Exploitation: This module is conducted over 48-72 hours and provides ADF personnel with survival strategies, coping mechanisms and experience in how to behave during detention by a military service of a hostile government. The training includes situations where ADF personnel are detained as prisoners of war and the detaining authority acts in a manner compliant with applicable international humanitarian law, but also includes situations where ADF personnel are detained by an authority that does not comply with the Geneva Conventions.9

2.13 According to Defence, there are a number of control measures in place to protect the safety and wellbeing of participants who undergo Conduct after Capture training. These include:

• providing participants with an activity overview during Level B briefings;

• obtaining the consent of participants before Level C activities are conducted

via signed volunteer declaration forms;

• reaffirming the volunteer status of participants prior to commencement of

Level C training;

• informing participants of their right to withdraw at any stage and the process for withdrawing prior to commencement of activity;

• monitoring of activities by psychology and medical officers who may withdraw participants at any stage;

• recording Level C activities on closed circuit television (CCTV);

• monitoring of CCTV footage by the Conducting Officer and Shift Senior

Trainer who may veto activities at any time; and

9 Department of Defence, Submission 8, pp 3-4.

8

• individually debriefing all participants (completed and withdrawn) after

training with both a Resistance Trainer and psychology officer.10

2.14 Prior to the commencement of the training, all activity staff also receive a safety brief which covers the key safety issues relevant to the activity and provides guidance on how to respond to an issue if the need arises.11

2.15 The evidence received by the committee from ADF personnel mostly related to RTI training conducted during the 1990s and up to RTI training transitioning to CAC training in 2006. The concerns raised by submitters address a number of issues with the equivalent of today's Level C training activities including the risk of physical and psychological harm, informed consent and the role of activity staff. The benefits of the training from Defence's perspective and the ability of the training to adequately prepare personnel for the reality of being captured were also questioned by a number of submitters.

Risk of harm 2.16 Submitters to the inquiry raised concerns that participants and trainers involved in Level C activities are at risk of physical and psychological harm. Submitters argued that participants are at risk of sustaining physical or psychological injury due to their exposure to realistic interrogation scenarios. Trainers are also at risk of psychological harm due to their involvement as role-players.

2.17 In evidence to the committee, a former RTI participant described how they had suffered immediate physical injury from the training and continued to experience pain from that injury for years afterwards.12 Another former RTI participant explained that they also continued to be significantly physically affected:

I am not able to control it. I am still impacted on a weekly or daily basis when my physiology is triggered by the levels of physical distress that they put on us.13

2.18 As well as the risk of physical injury, submitters argued that trainees have experienced significant psychological harm as a direct result of the training. A former CAC participant described a range of mental health issues following their participation in the training:

I went to see this psychologist to deal with this imprinting and, with her help, we managed to stop that. But what happened then was other symptoms started to manifest themselves: sleeplessness and restlessness, mild shaking in the hands, problems with short-term memory.14

10 Department of Defence, Submission 8, p. 4.

11 Department of Defence, Submission 8, p. 4.

12 Name Withheld, Submission 2, p. 6.

13 In camera hearing, 7 March 2017.

14 In camera hearing, 7 March 2017.

9

2.19 Significant psychological issues also had lasting effects on yet another RTI participant:

It can take me three to five days to come back down from where I am not quite incapacitated but pretty well impaired in my thinking and my capacity for self-care. I can go from being a normal, highly-functioning person with a well-paid job to being someone who really is in dire straits for a few days. 15

2.20 One submitter highlighted that the UK no longer conducts its equivalent RTI training longer than 48 hours because studies had showed it could induce psychosis.16

2.21 Although the Australian Psychological Society (APS) acknowledged that participants who voluntarily enter into RTI training are less likely to suffer from psychological harm than non-voluntary participants, it highlighted a lack of research into the prevalence of mental health issues due to participation in RTI activities.17 The committee heard evidence that volunteerism may not mitigate the risk of psychological harm:

I know that the common human way of coping is to dissociate in those situations, and the stress involved can have permanent effects upon the brain in a similar way to what PTSD does, so there can be long-term damage that can occur from a process that has no proven benefit. Even if it were voluntary, it still will not offset those risks.18

2.22 Submitters expressed concern that CAC activities are conducted directly following SAS selection courses, at a time when participants are mentally and physically exhausted and therefore in a vulnerable condition:

…the activities I experienced during the R2I process would be stressful to the point of being psychologically dangerous and damaging for anyone under any circumstances. Add to that, the state of physical and emotional fragility that we were in after 18 days of food and sleep deprivation and mental exhaustion, and I consider that the R2I process I experienced was an act of gross negligence, possibly criminal negligence.19

2.23 The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists warned that ADF personnel are at increased risk of developing mental health issues due to the unique demands of their military service and suggested that Defence implement systematic screening of individuals exposed to CAC training to identify mental health trends.20 At the hearing, the APS argued:

15 In camera hearing, 7 March 2017.

16 Name Withheld, Submission 9, pp 2-3.

17 Australian Psychological Society, Submission 1, p. 3.

18 In camera hearing, 7 March 2017.

19 Name Withheld, Submission 9, p. 2.

20 Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, Submission 3, p. 2.

10

Clearly, if someone withdrew from the training, that should be setting off warning bells for people.21

2.24 The APS advised that following any traumatic event the symptoms for most individuals will decline after the first month, however around 10 per cent or less may continue to be impacted; therefore screening of participants should be conducted as soon as possible following activities so early treatment can be provided. The APS argued that all organisations should obtain independent advice on the potential effects

of any contentious course, and that independent oversight of CAC training is essential:

This is such a serious thing, that can leave such a mark on a person psychologically, that I do not think it can be left to the people who are undertaking or providing the training to assess whether it is having an impact on people. I think there has to be an arm's length, third-party kind of review process.22

Informed consent 2.25 From a legal perspective, informed consent generally refers to an individual agreeing to a course of action (such as undergoing a medical procedure) only after all the relevant factors and risks associated with that activity have been disclosed. In this context, there is a conundrum with RTI training and the consent of individuals who participate in and complete the training.

2.26 Defence does not use the term 'informed consent' in relation to its RTI or CAC training activities. As previously noted, Defence refers to participants in Level C training as 'volunteers' if they have signed a volunteer declaration form prior to commencing training.

2.27 The committee received evidence from former participants of RTI training which clearly demonstrates that on a number of occasions during the 1990s, Defence:

• suddenly initiated RTI training without participants having prior knowledge

this would happen;

• failed to obtain the consent of participants; and

• obtained consent when participants were in a depleted mental and physical

state.

2.28 Submitters alleged that, in some cases, Defence failed to provide RTI participants with briefings prior to or following the training:

We astoundingly have a cohort of formerly serving Australian soldiers who have been subjected to one of the most hazardous (and possibly heinous) forms of military training, without any preparation, training, consent, post-exercise debriefing, or access to any form of support.23

21 In camera hearing, 7 March 2017.

22 In camera hearing, 7 March 2017.

23 Dr Steven Scally, Submission 7, p. 2.

11

2.29 One former RTI participant advised the committee they would not have elected to participate had they received more information prior to the activity.24 Another former RTI participant argued that they would have either opted out earlier had they known in advance that doing so would not affect their career.25 According to the APS:

I think the problem with what we are talking about—the resistance-to-interrogation training—is that it is described to people, but the demands that it places on individuals really only become apparent to them as they are undergoing the training. So under the present set of circumstances they are not consenting in a way where they fully understand the risks and the dangers to them. That is not informed consent.26

2.30 The evidence from submitters suggested that pressure to participate in RTI training activities contributed to the decision to consent, even though activities had not been fully explained beforehand. Being considered eligible for the SAS or maintaining personal reputation amongst peers are strong motivating factors. As one former RTI participant explained:

Particularly in the context of SAS selection, you have got a bunch of people who are trying to prove that they can handle whatever is thrown at them. Certainly I was just trying to prove I could handle whatever was thrown at me, and it would have been shameful amongst my peers to put my hand up and say, 'I can't handle this' or, 'I think this is wrong' or, 'I'm not prepared to go on'.27

2.31 The committee also heard evidence that on at least one occasion in 2006, volunteer declaration forms were only provided to trainees after they had been 'captured'. In this case, signatures were obtained from individuals who were confused and exhausted from SAS training over the preceding days.28 It remains unclear to the committee whether these individuals were RTI or CAC model participants as information on the timing of Defence's transition to CAC was not provided to the committee.

Issues related to activity staff

Resistance Trainers

2.32 Submitters expressed concerns that the active role of trainers may cause psychological harm. Although Defence argued that activity staff are trained to protect the safety and wellbeing of CAC participants, information on measures to protect the wellbeing of Resistance Trainers was not provided to the committee.

2.33 According to the APS, interrogation and torture can have long-lasting negative effects on both the subject and the person delivering it. However, it

24 Name Withheld, Submission 9, p. 1.

25 In camera hearing, 7 March 2017.

26 In camera hearing, 7 March 2017.

27 In camera hearing, 7 March 2017.

28 In camera hearing, 7 March 2017.

12

highlighted the absence of clinical evidence on the occurrence of harm to trainers and suggested that further research into the subject be conducted.29

2.34 The committee received evidence alleging that RTI activities conducted by Defence doubled as training for army interrogators to enable them to practice information extraction techniques on personnel undertaking training to resist interrogation.30

2.35 According to the APS, misuse of RTI training is a genuine risk. It highlighted cases where psychologist-designed SERE training for US Special Forces had been reversed by members of US military and security services and misused as techniques for interrogation.31

2.36 Defence advised that the Defence Force School of Intelligence is the only ADF unit authorised to deliver Conduct after Capture training. It indicated that only qualified ADF Resistance Trainers are authorised to deliver training and that trainer qualification is awarded following a suitability assessment, including psychological testing, as well as the successful completion of a five week Resistance Trainer course which covers all aspects of Conduct after Capture training.32

Independence of psychological and medical officers

2.37 Submitters also raised concerns over the use of psychologists and medical officers during CAC activities. It was argued that staff who participate in training activities are in direct conflict with their ethical obligations. Their independence to protect the safety and wellbeing of participants can also be compromised.

2.38 According to the APS, registered psychologists are guided by a Code of Ethics which provides that psychologists must in no way harm individuals and ensure that their knowledge and expertise is not misused to harm others.33 Following the misuse of SERE training in the US and questions into the integrity of the American Psychological Association, the APS released a statement that condemned the involvement of psychologists in situations where inhuman treatment is being used or threatened. The APS argued that:

It is imperative that the [committee] understand the importance of the ADF recognising psychologists' obligations under the APS Code of Ethics and associated guidelines…34

2.39 Accepting that CAC training may be a necessary activity, the APS recommended that Defence support psychologists involved in CAC activities to remain compliant with professional codes of conduct.35

29 Australian Psychological Society, Submission 1, p. 3.

30 Name Withheld, Submission 9, pp 3-4.

31 Australian Psychological Society, Submission 1, p. 4.

32 Department of Defence, Submission 8, p. 3.

33 Australian Psychological Society, Submission 1, pp 4-5.

34 Australian Psychological Society, Submission 1, p. 5.

13

2.40 Concerns regarding the independence of activity staff were also raised. Dr Steven Scally argued that medical staff are not able to protect the safety and wellbeing of participants because their power to report or veto activities is compromised by command. Dr Scally alleged that staff were historically deterred from exercising their powers during RTI activities for fear of reprisal:

Challenging the wants of command is an audacious, if not career-ending, prospect. The military has many implicit sanctions for the non-conforming, and this includes the lowly-ranked psychology or medical officer…Medical officers being forced to change clinical decisions (not over-ruled, but enforced) was common place. Concepts of confidentiality were lost on superior officers insisting on intruding on sacrosanct doctor-patient ground, in directed attempts to sway the outcome of the clinical interaction, such as occurred in Resistance to Interrogation training, and other settings. Threats of insubordination charges, legal action and imprisonment were reserved for the particularly feisty.36

Value of training 2.41 Although Defence argued that CAC training is essential to prepare prone-to-capture personnel in conduct after capture, submitters speculated whether it has any proven operational benefit or whether the risk of injury to participants is too high and outweighs any military operational benefits.37

2.42 Several submitters highlighted that the benefits of the training is poorly researched, and not enough is known about the efficacy of the training or the effects on those who participate.38 The APS doubted if it was even possible to prepare people for the brutality of captivity.39

2.43 During the hearing, a former RTI participant reflected that:

I am not confident that anybody who went through the training in my era, as undergoing interrogation, got anything out of it. The crux is that it is actually a misnomer to call it 'training', because no instruction was given, there was no feedback, there was no evaluation and there was no coaching…what the objectives of the training are, what they are going to take you through, what the key techniques are that you need to understand are. None of that was there.40

2.44 According to Defence, an analysis conducted by the Defence Force School of Intelligence investigated the positive and negative experiences of CAC trainees over 2015-16. Whilst trainees acknowledged the training was arduous, they indicated that

35 Australian Psychological Society, Submission 1, pp 5-6.

36 Dr Steven Scally, Submission 7, p. 3.

37 Dr Steven Scally, Submission 7, pp 1-2.

38 For example: Australian Psychological Society, Submission 1; Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, Submission 3; Dr Steven Scally, Submission 7.

39 In camera hearing, 7 March 2017.

40 In camera hearing, 7 March 2017.

14

their experience better prepared them for resisting interrogation and surviving captivity.41

Compliance with the law 2.45 Since 1989, Australia has been a signatory to the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and it continues to be legally bound by it. The convention is an international human rights treaty that aims to prevent torture and other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment around the world.42

2.46 However, former RTI participants described their personal experience with being forced into degrading and humiliating activities without prior warning or consent. One submitter argued that their activity had subjected individuals to abusive behaviour in direct conflict with their employer's duty of care obligations:

When we come back to the issue of duty of care, and whether the duty of care was met in taking care of people like myself who were being interrogated, it does not really stack up in terms of the duty of care of the people coordinating all this.43

2.47 In April 2016, Defence completed a legal review of its Conduct after Capture training framework. The review was undertaken by a Senior Counsel from the NSW Bar as an ADF reserve legal officer. According to Defence:

This legal review determined that the training is compliant with Australian domestic law and applicable international legal obligations. The legal advice has been reviewed by the Office of the Australian Government Solicitor, in order to address previously raised concerns over the independence of any review. The office of the Australian Government Solicitor concurs with Defence's legal advice.44

41 In camera hearing, 7 March 2017.

42 Australian Human Rights Commission, Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, https://www.humanrights.gov.au/convention-against-torture-and-other-cruel-inhuman-or-degrading-treatment-or-punishment-human-rights (accessed 28 February 2017).

43 In camera hearing, 7 March 2017.

44 Department of Defence, Submission 8, p. 5.

Chapter 3

Conclusion and recommendations Introduction 3.1 The committee acknowledges the importance of informing prone-to-capture ADF personnel of potential scenarios they may face in captivity and agrees with Defence that individuals should receive some level of training on how to survive with dignity. However in light of the evidence received during this inquiry, especially from ADF personnel who completed Resistance to Interrogation (RTI) training, the committee questions whether the Conduct after Capture (CAC) Level C practical immersion training, which was introduced in 2006, is the most effective and safest method to deliver these outcomes.

3.2 The committee is concerned about the duration of CAC Level C training up to 96 hours and whether this is necessary given that the committee heard evidence that the British defence forces conduct equivalent CAC training over a shorter 48-hour period due to risk of psychological harm.

3.3 The committee is also concerned that Level C training continues to be conducted following arduous SAS training courses when participants are mentally and physically exhausted. The committee believes that Defence should exercise greater duty of care and examine the necessity of subjecting personnel to Level C training activities when they are exhausted and at high risk of physical and psychological injury.

Consent 3.4 On the issue of consent and voluntary participation in the training, the committee has two main areas of concern. First, the committee was disturbed by allegations that during the 1990s and as recently as 2006, Defence failed to obtain the consent of some participants prior to the commencement of training activities. Furthermore, the evidence shows that consent was obtained from some individuals when they were mentally and physically exhausted or only after training had already commenced.

3.5 The committee notes Defence's evidence that stricter controls around consent were implemented following the review of RTI training that Defence completed in 2004. The committee also understands that details about activities are intentionally withheld from participants in order to simulate likely scenarios involving capture and interrogation. However, the committee is not convinced that CAC training can be undertaken with participants' 'informed' consent when important details of the training methods used are not fully disclosed.

Recommendation 1

3.6 The committee recommends that participants in Conduct after Capture training are provided with all the relevant information on the nature of the training activity before they sign a volunteer declaration form.

16

3.7 Second, the committee is concerned that prospective participants are not being provided with information about the risk and types of injury that may occur as a result of participation in training activities. The committee heard evidence that physical and psychological harm is not uncommon due to the nature and duration of the training. In light of the evidence provided by former participants in RTI training, the committee is of the view that information on the potential physical and psychological harm that may occur should be provided to individuals before they consent to training.

Recommendation 2

3.8 The committee recommends that Conduct after Capture Level B briefings be revised to include information on the risk of physical and psychological injury that may occur as a result of participation in Level C training activities.

Duty of care 3.9 The committee notes that Defence regularly reviews its CAC training program to reflect best practice among Australia's allies and the changing nature of warfare and Australia's military operations abroad. While the committee accepts that this is a necessary part of training, it agrees with the Australian Psychological Society that high-risk training programs such as Conduct after Capture should be subject to an arms-length, third party external review process. A third-party review should focus on screening participants in Level C training from an early stage after completion for any sign of psychological harm. The committee does not believe that psychologists who participate in CAC training are best placed to provide independent medical assessments of participants when the training is completed.

Recommendation 3

3.10 The committee recommends that the Department of Defence implement independent screening of individuals who have participated in Level C activities to identify and treat psychological injuries.

3.11 The committee also received some disturbing evidence from former and serving ADF personnel who are living with the debilitating physical and psychological effects of RTI training completed in the 1990s. The committee is concerned that a potentially large cohort of RTI trainees in the community may have acquired a physical or mental health condition long after completing their RTI training, but did not seek treatment or assistance from Defence or the Department of Veterans' Affairs. Defence does not have a process to identify and assist these former trainees, a situation the committee believes Defence should rectify.

3.12 The committee is of the view that Defence should be doing more to identify and reach out to individuals who have participated in RTI and CAC activities and provide advice on the support available for any physical and psychological injuries arising from training.

Recommendation 4

3.13 The committee recommends that the Department of Defence conduct an audit of its records to identify all former RTI and CAC training participants and

17

provide information on avenues available to treat physical and psychological injuries arising from training.

3.14 It is unclear from the evidence received whether Defence retains records of individuals' involvement in RTI or CAC activities. Former participants described their difficulty receiving support from DVA as details of their involvement in training activities appear not to have been recorded.

3.15 The committee supports measures that will improve access to health support for current and former Defence personnel, and believes that Defence should ensure that it keeps medical and service records of all individuals who have participated in Level C activities.

Recommendation 5

3.16 The committee recommends that the Department of Defence retain medical and service records of individuals' involvement in Level C activities and ensure this information is accessible by the Department of Veterans' Affairs.

Senator Alex Gallacher Chair

18

Additional Comments from Senator Jacqui Lambie Concurring with the Committee Report 1.1 Senator Jacqui Lambie, of the State of Tasmania, concurs with the committee report, all of its recommendations, and writes separately to more fully address the following issues: (1) evidence received on resistance to interrogation (RTI)1 training conducted by the Department of Defence (DoD) doubling as training for army interrogators, enabling them to practice information extraction techniques on personnel undertaking training to resist interrogation;2 and (2) RTI training recordings by the DoD. Senator Lambie makes two further recommendations.

1.2 It should be noted that the case of SAS Trooper Evan Donaldson, mentioned in the committee report, was settled last week.3

1.3 Submission 9, Name Withheld, as part of the SAS selection course had been a participant in a 72-hour RTI exercise, and noted specifically that the training had 'doubled as a training exercise for army interrogators, using SAS applicants as targets, again without informed consent…it placed SAS participants in a position where they were part of abusive, unethical and illegal behaviour, which once it started, they had no capacity to stop or extricate themselves from'.4

1.4 The DoD’s written submission noted that '[o]nly qualified ADF Resistance Trainers are authorised to deliver training'.5 The DoD submission does not address any issues raised by Submission 9 with respect to training being doubled as a training exercise for army interrogators.

1.5 The committee report notes the thousands of hours of recordings made by the ADF of RTI training. The DoD made available a sample video at its Russell Offices for a private viewing by the committee in February 2017. Dr Steven Scally, a 21-year Army career soldier who was both an involuntary participant in RTI training and later involved as a medical officer, provided a submission noting that DoD 'will assure that all activities are supervised via CCTV and recorded for later scrutiny…no amount of CCTV video footage can show the viewer what has never been recorded, and what cannot be recorded'.6 Dr Scally observed that the 'generals, intellectuals and politicians can take it from here…and decide whether international and domestic laws have been breached',7 citing the United Nations and Geneva Convention principles.

1 RTI training has been renamed Conduct after Capture (CAC) training.

2 Name Withheld, Submission 9, pp. 3-4. 3 ABC News, Former SAS elite soldier has service recognised after costly legal battle with Defence (21 Mar 2017).

4 Name Withheld, Submission 9, p. 3.

5 Department of Defence, Submission 8, p. 3.

6 Dr Steven Scally, Submission 7, p. 3.

7 Dr Steven Scally, Submission 7, p. 4.

20

Recommendation 1

1.6 That future Conduct after Capture (CAC) training by the Department of Defence does not serve as a dual purpose for training interrogators.

Recommendation 2

1.7 That the thousands of hours of Department of Defence CCTV video recordings made of RTI and/or CAC be made available to the Commonwealth Ombudsman for an independent assessment as to whether any United Nations or Geneva Convention principles on human rights were violated in order to ensure that Australia has upheld, and continues to uphold, its international obligations with respect to any treaties it has entered into.

Senator Jacqui Lambie Senator for Tasmania

Appendix 1

Submissions

1 The Australian Psychological Society

2 Name Withheld

3 The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists

4 Confidential

5 Commonwealth Ombudsman

6 Psychology Board of Australia

7 Dr Steven Scally

8 Department of Defence

9 Name Withheld

9.1 Supplementary Submission - Confidential

10 Confidential

22