The findings of an investigation published on Thursday confirmed that Australian soldiers “unlawfully” killed at least 39 civilians and prisoners in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2016. The report found that senior commandos forced junior soldiers to kill defenseless captives in order to “blood” the troops for combat.
The report recommended referring 19 current and former soldiers for potential prosecution.
“This is a terrible, terribly disturbing and distressing report,” Morrison said on Saturday. “But the thing about Australia is — is we will deal with it. And we will deal with it under our law, under our systems, and our justice system.”
The investigation came after the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported in July about an alleged cover-up of the killing of an Afghan boy in Kandahar Province in 2012.
The office of the Inspector-General of the Australian Defense Force (IGADF) also described the report as “possibly the most disgraceful episode in Australia’s military history.”
“We know that it happened in 2012,” it said. “The commanders at troop, squadron, and task group level bear moral command responsibility for what happened under their command, regardless of personal fault.”
Australia, which is not a member of NATO, has had an active role in Afghanistan since the US-led invasion of the country in 2001.
In May, it sent an additional 30 troops to Afghanistan to join the NATO-led mission against the Taliban and other militant groups, bringing its total Afghan deployment to 300 troops.
The US-led invasion removed the Taliban militant group from power but has failed to stop its militant activities in the country. The ongoing chaos has also paved the way for the Daesh terror group to gain a foothold in Afghanistan’s east.