06 June 2011

RSL: Unwarranted delays in Australian Defence Force justice

Yesterday the Returned & Services League of Australia or "RSL" issued this press release concerning what it states is an "inordinate delay in the legal process surrounding the decision of the Director of Military Prosecutions to prosecute three members of the Australian Defence Force charged with very serious offenses alleged to have been committed during operational service in Afghanistan."

Last month Brigadier Ian Westwood, who was the military judge in a general court-martial of two members of the ADF from 1 Commando Regiment, charged with manslaughter and dangerous conduct during their service in Afghanistan found that the charges failed to disclose a service related offence and was bad at law. Charges were then referred back to the Director of Military Prosecutions to either accept the decision, or appeal it or raise fresh charges against the soldiers.

The RSL, in its statement, believes in and supports the process of military justice and respects the independence of the Director of Military Prosecutions, and insists on its democratic responsibility to raise concerns and public awareness about what the RSL believes is a denial of justice in this instance.

However, the RSL argues that "excessive and unexplained delays in these legal proceedings is deleterious to the morale of the Australian Defence Force, is an affront to all who have previously served the nation and is the antithesis of what members of the League believe should be a robust, fair and efficient system of military justice."

To view the documentation released by the Australian Government via the Freedom of Information Act on the two diggers charged with manslaughter and dangerous conduct whilst serving in Afghanistan go here.

[Disclaimer I am a member of the RSL and hold elected office within it.]

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