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Boys hold missile shrapnel they collected from the site of a Saudi-led airstrike in Sanaa, Yemen. Canberra-made weapons are being sold to the Saudi Arabian government. Photograph: Khaled Abdullah/Reuters

Media Release: Government challenged to provide legal basis for Syrian bombing

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Australians for War Powers Reform (AWPR) urges reform of the process by which Australian troops can be sent to war, calls on the Australian Government to state on what grounds any further Australian role in bombing Syria would be legal.

The group states that the following should be mandatory before any such Australian military action:

  • The receipt by the Government of independent legal advice, for example by the Solicitor General, stating that any proposed military actions are legal under international law;
  • The open publication of such advice; and
  • Confirmation that the Government could, if required, defend its decision at the International Court of Justice.

In addition, certification by the Governor-General-in-Council that the proposed actions are lawful should be required.

AWPR Acting President and former diplomat Dr Alison Broinowski said, “We hear repeatedly from our Government about the importance of the rule of law and Australia’s support for it. Such statements are a sham if we ignore the law we expect other countries to obey, especially on the gravest decision a government can make – sending its troops to war.”

On 24 March this year, PM Abbott revealed that the RAAF was already assisting US combat operations over Syria. As Australia is already complicit in the bombing of Syria, with no demonstrated lawful basis for our actions, any augmentation of that role compounds the potential hazards if our actions come under the spotlight internationally. Mr Abbott’s stated moral justifications for the proposed bombings are not supported by any announced strategy for ending the violence engulfing Iraq, Syria and other parts of the Middle East.

Dr Broinowski said, “The ADF deserve better than to be sent to kill and risk being killed on the basis of undisclosed and unsubstantiated claims of legality and a non-existent military strategy.”

For further information, please call:

Dr Alison Broinowski, (02) 9332 3784. Mobile 0422608580

Photo: Syrian refugees in the Atme camp, along the Turkish border in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, on March 19, 2013. (BULENT KILIC/Getty Images).

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