Dutch report on possible war crime by Australian soldiers disappeared
In 2010, Dutch soldiers reported a possible war crime committed by Australian military elite units. According to the Special Report, which led to no action, the Australian soldiers tortured and murdered an Afghan citizen in Uruzgan. The report is now untraceable, NRC reports based on documents and conversations with those involved in recent months.
The Australian soldiers believed the Afghan man was a bomb maker involved in a deadly attack on two Dutch marines on 17 April 2010. They told the Dutch marines where to find the man, and the Dutch soldiers went to detain him. Dutch intelligence officers interrogated the man but rereleased him because they found no proof that he was involved. According to them, the man was a young local farmer with possibly the same name as the alleged bomb maker.
According to the newspaper, the Australian troops detained the man again, tortured him, and killed him. Several local sources told the Dutch intelligence officers that the Australians took the man from his home as his family watched, cut the corners of his mouth open, cut out his tongue, and then shot him through the back of his head.
A Dutch intelligence officer made a Special Report about the incident. Multiple sources told NRC that paper versions of the report went to the commander of the Task Force Uruzgan (TFU), Keus van Heuvel, and the head of Intelligence. The report was also filed in a digital system to which the military intelligence service MIVD has access. At the end of the mission, it ended up on a hard drive and went into the archive.
In November 2020, Australia published a report stating strong indications that Australian soldiers executed at least 39 Afghans and committed other war crimes. Dutch parliamentarians wanted to know whether Dutch soldiers knew about this, and the then Ministers of Defense and Foreign Affairs promised to investigate. At that time, the Ministry of Defense received information about the Special Report. The Ministry’s Director of Evaluation went looking for the report but gave up three months later. He couldn’t find the hard drives, or they were incomplete, documents went missing, and people involved couldn’t remember details, NRC reports.
The Ministry of Defense told NRC that the investigation into this Special Report is still ongoing. The then TFU commander Van den Heuvel told NRC: “I have never seen such a report. I don’t even know whether it exists.” He said he would have “certainly taken action” if the report had reached him.