WEDNESDAY 4 MARCH, 2015
No clear mission - no SOFA?
Following Prime Minister Abbott’s announcement of additional troops for Iraq, Australians for War Powers Reform (AWPR) have expressed serious concern at the lack of clearly articulated goals that will be met by the deployments. While the PM has denied any ‘mission creep’, this is exactly what is happening, with our role in Iraq having evolved significantly since August-September last year.
AWPR President and former Defence Department head Paul Barratt said,
"Step by step Australia is being drawn into a vicious sectarian war of enormous complexity, with no apparent strategy, no likelihood of influencing the strategy (if any) of our major ally, and no indication of what success might look like.”
In addition, AWPR calls for parliamentary debate on the matter and a resolution in the House of Representatives. This could easily occur, as parliament is currently sitting. The lack of parliamentary engagement with matters concerning ADF deployments continues to be a blight on our democracy.
Important issues that appear to be unresolved include a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). AWPR calls upon the Government to inform the public:
· Whether or not the presence in Iraq of armed Australian service people is covered by a Treaty-level Status of Forces Agreement, as would normally be the case for any deployment into the territory of another country.
· If so, when can we expect this Agreement to be presented to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties?
· If not, why not? What arrangements are in place to protect our military from arbitrary prosecutions under Iraqi law and to define the circumstances under which they may or may not use armed force while in Iraqi territory?
Australians for War Powers Reform is a project of the Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry, which believes there are fundamentally important lessons to be learnt from the 2003 invasion of Iraq. AWPR advocates mandatory debate in Parliament, and the need for Parliamentary authorisation, before any deployment of the ADF into overseas armed conflict can occur. It is time to reform and democratise Australia’s war powers.
For further information or interview please contact:
· Paul Barratt, AWPR President, phone 0411 276 996 (after midday on March 4)
· Sue Wareham, AWPR Secretary, phone 02 6253 1117