SYDNEY 11 July 2017 – UNICEF Australia says allegations of the killing of at least two children in Afghanistan in 2012 and 2013 by Australian soldiers must be thoroughly investigated.
The first case involves the alleged unlawful killing in 2012 of a 14 or 15-year-old Afghan boy in Kandahar province, by Australian special forces.
The second centres on the death of a reported Taliban sympathiser and his son in an Australian raid in Uruzgan province in September 2013.
Both deaths are part of a wider scoping inquiry already taking place into the culture of Australia’s special forces soldiers the office of the Inspector General of the Australian Defence Force (IGADF).
The killing of civilian children amounts to a grave violation of children’s rights under international law. While UNICEF Australia will not comment on the specific allegations, we want to highlight the critical importance of transparency in the process once the independent scoping inquiry is completed.
“At all times children in conflict zones must be protected and the principles of International Humanitarian Law observed. These forbid the harming of civilians, including children, during armed conflict. Accountability and justice for children must always be paramount,” said UNICEF Australia’s Director of Policy and Advocacy Amy Lamoin.
UNICEF Australia also takes this opportunity to encourage the Australian Government to sign the global Safe Schools Declaration, which aims to protect students and teachers and keep schools safe spaces during periods of armed conflict. Around the world, the negative consequences of armed conflict on education present urgent humanitarian, development and wider social challenges. In schools, children are being killed, wounded and permanently disabled at unprecedented rates.
“The Safe Schools Declaration is a simple way for the Australian Government to help protect children and their right to education, and to strengthen respect for International Humanitarian Law. UNICEF Australia calls on the Australia Government to take the simple step of signing this agreement,” said Ms Lamoin.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
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For more information please contact:
Charlotte Glennie, UNICEF Australia, 0420 407 886, firstname.lastname@example.org