ARCHIVE – British soldiers interrogating an Afghan civilian. (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons via Cpl. Steve Cushman)
The British Ministry of Defense issued a statement on 15 December, announcing the establishment of a statutory inquiry to investigate the murders committed by the British Armed Forces against Afghan civilians.
The probe will look into the actions committed between mid-2010 to mid-2013, based on a recent BBC report that revealed how UK special forces covered up civilian executions in Afghanistan.
Several dozens of extrajudicial killings took place during nighttime raids by Special Air Service (SAS) corps, where about 54 unarmed males were killed in “cold blood.”
Senior Judge for England and Wales, Charles Anthony Haddon-Cave will head the inquiry based on his previous experience in defense-related cases.
The British Minister of Defense, Ben Wallace, stated that the ministry “has made a number of changes in recent years when dealing with [such] serious allegations. Many of these are already in operation, including the creation of the Defense Serious Crime Unit.”
However, he expressed his support for the ministry’s personnel – both active duty service members as well as veterans – and vowed to provide “legal and welfare support where they face allegations that relate to actions taken during their service.”
Wallace added that the allegations would be handled in the appropriate manner to protect those already acquitted, and to avoid futile legal proceedings.
An independent statutory inquiry has been established to investigate and report on allegations of wrongdoing in Afghanistan.
We are committed to supporting our people. Members of the Armed Forces and veterans will be entitled to legal and pastoral support https://t.co/EUEHQweBsv pic.twitter.com/PTX51AvDp7
— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) December 15, 2022
In an address to the parliament, a Conservative party member Andrew Murrison revealed that the decision to investigate is based on two ongoing cases under review from 2011 and 2012.
The families of two Afghan civilians murdered by the SAS sought justice in the UK, which consequently led to the expansion in the investigations to cover dozens of others.
“Operations must be carried out within the clear confines of the law, and any credible allegations against our forces must always be thoroughly investigated,” Murrison added.
Earlier in July, a documentary produced by the BBC reported on the actions of British soldiers in Afghanistan during the ongoing war against the Taliban, implicating them with several dozen murders.
The BBC showcased forensic evidence of bullet holes and trajectories, along with testimonies, that pinned the SAS for the planned execution of victims while kneeling or laying flat on the floor.
Additionally, the BBC relied on court documents and leaked emails, that disclosed how the special forces chain of command was repeatedly warned about these incidents, yet refused to file reports to the military police.
“Too many people were being killed on night raids and the explanations didn’t make sense. Once somebody is detained, they shouldn’t end up dead,” a senior special forces officer told BBC Panorama.
He added that “for it to happen over and over again was causing alarm at HQ. It was clear at the time that something was wrong.”
Remarkably, the Australian SAS unit was also under investigation for similar crimes committed by its British counterparts in Afghanistan.
According to a report by the online news website The Age, an Australian veteran soldier confessed to murdering Afghan civilians in the district of Qarabagh in 2012.
About 39 Afghan civilians were documented to have been murdered by Australian special forces over just a couple of years.