Prime Minister, Attorney General & Minster for Defence – ADF given greater power to target terrorists

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Senator the Hon Marise Payne

Minister for Defence

Media contact
  • Henry Budd (Minister Payne’s office) 0429 531 143
  • Defence Media (02) 6127 1999

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1 December 2016

The Parliament has today passed important legislation giving the Australian Defence Force (ADF) greater power to target terrorists with lethal force.

The Criminal Code Amendment (War Crimes) Bill 2016 aligns Australia’s domestic law with international humanitarian law and provides legal certainty for Defence personnel fighting terrorist groups in combat zones.

Until now, Australian domestic law restricted the ADF from targeting key players in Daesh’s combat operations who were not directly involved in hostilities. Targeting these individuals could have exposed ADF personnel to prosecution under the Criminal Code, even if their actions were consistent with international law. This meant that members of Daesh and other organised armed groups had greater protection from attack than members of an ordinary state’s armed forces.

The Government’s legislation eliminates this problem and brings ADF operations into line with our key Coalition partners fighting Daesh in Iraq and Syria.

The ADF’s conduct as part of Coalition operations against Daesh remains in accordance with strict rules of engagement that are consistent with Australia’s international legal obligations and domestic law.

Media Contacts:

Prime Minister’s Office:                 Press Office, (02) 6277 7744

Attorney-General’s Office:            Scott Bolitho, 0477 722 189

Defence Minister’s Office:            Henry Budd, 0429 531 143

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