australia

‘I won’t be bullied’: expert who helped spark war crimes inquiry speaks out after Dutton criticism

The military sociologist whose interviews with Australian special forces soldiers helped spark the long-running investigation into alleged war crimes has vowed she will not be “bullied or intimidated”.

dr. Samantha Crompvoets – who has been criticized by Defense Secretary Peter Dutton over a planned new book – also said on Friday that she believed the response to the Brereton inquiry had become “political” and that the trend was “useless”. .

“I am not ashamed of raising issues that I believe are significantly jeopardizing the reputation and capability of our defense force,” she told a conference hosted by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

Without naming anyone, she added: “For those who want to silence me or my work, I will not be bullied or intimidated. There needs to be a culture change.”

Crompvoets is currently seeking approval through government processes for her forthcoming book, Blood Lust, Trust & Blame, due out next month. She was criticized by several politicians, including Dutton, and a number of media outlets.

While Crompvoets claimed it is not a comprehensive book and is based on public domain material, Dutton has said he has “real concerns about the whole situation”.

The defense minister told 2GB radio last week that he had “obtained legal advice” and that he did not think Crompvoets’ company would get any more defense contracts.

Crompvoets said on Friday that she had “recently written a book that may or may not be published next month” and that it “got quite a lot of attention”.

She said she had been privileged to work closely with Defense on culture for over a decade, adding: “What should have been a fairly simple project in 2015 became something much bigger when individuals alleged crimes to me. started to reveal. by Australian troops in Afghanistan.”

She said cultural reform was “easily ridiculed” if it was “framed as a social justice agenda” — but she claimed failure to learn the lessons of the past would pose significant risks to the ADF’s ability to fight war. feed.

“Defence culture reform was never really about political correctness or a wakeful agenda — whatever that is,” she said. “It was about making sure Defense people — their soldiers, sailors, airmen, officers — are set up to succeed and thrive and to be an effective fighting force.”

The Brereton investigation found “credible” evidence to implicate 25 current or former ADF employees in the alleged unlawful killing of 39 people and the brutal treatment of two others. The newly established office of the special investigator will consider the evidence ahead of possible prosecutions.

Crompvoets said she understood why people “wanted to move away from stories of alleged war crimes, to improve morale, to better understand and respond to veterans’ health.”

“And as someone with a partner who is currently in the hospital and being treated for combat-related PTSD, I understand,” she said. “War crime allegations are really uncomfortable.”

Crompvoets said failing to properly understand and talk about war crime allegations “would be a grave injustice to the brave men and women who came forward and told their stories, with all they had to lose professionally and personally”.

“Failing to understand why these occurred and ensuring that the same environmental and other factors don’t conspire again to make this possible is a risk,” she said.

“It is a risk to our national security, to our international reputation and to our collective national psyche.”

Addressing the same Aspi conference the previous day, Dutton said he meant what he said about the government “having its back” on Australian defense personnel.

Dutton said hundreds of veterans had taken their lives after returning from conflict zones in the Middle East. “There is a moral problem that we need to address,” Dutton said. “I don’t want us to forget Brereton’s lessons, but we’re not going to get caught up in them either.”

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