Shadow foreign minister Simon Birmingham He said today will be a “tough day” for many in the service. He says Australia should be proud of the overwhelming majority of those who serve in the defense force.
Birmingham speaking to the ABC:
This is certainly an important provision, it is a legal procedure deserving of respect, not one of the Commonwealth as a party and between two parties, a matter of civil procedure. There are a few general principles we need to keep in mind, one of which is that Australia is a country that applies a standard, in terms of the expectations of our staff working on transparency and accountability, that few other countries in the world apply. We should be proud of those standards but we should also be overwhelmingly proud of our staff, of all who have served, and this will be a difficult day for many of them, both in the way it is reported and how it is reflected, in which country it is important that we speak clearly of our thanks and pride to those who have worn Uniforms and they continue to wear uniforms in the defense of Australia.
Pictures just come from Nick Mackenzie And Chris MastersThey spoke outside the court earlier, welcoming their historic win in federal court.
Nine issued a statement calling the findings a “crucial step toward achieving justice” for the families of Afghan villagers and a “vindication for journalists”.
statement from James ChesselDirector of Nine Publishing Torey MaguireSaid the executive editor of The Sydney Morning Herald and the Age:
The ruling is a vindication for journalists Nick McKenzie and Chris Masters, who began reporting this difficult and complex story more than seven years ago.
It is vindication for the many people in our newsrooms and our organization who have supported this important public journalism.
Most importantly, it is a vindication for the brave soldiers in the Australian Defense Force Special Forces who served their country with distinction and then had the courage to tell the truth about what happened in Afghanistan.
Green Party defense spokesman, David Shoebridgecalled the libel ruling “an important victory for courageous journalism in the public interest”.
Shoebridge wrote on Twitter that if the ruling continues, then Australian War Memorial Ben Roberts-Smith’s uniform should be “immediately removed from public view and begin to tell the full truth of Australia’s involvement in that brutal war”.
The War Memorial has been contacted for comment.
Shoebridge also urged the Albanian government to “proceed urgently to compensate the families of victims of alleged Afghan war crimes, one of the main outstanding recommendations of the Bretton Report”.
Shoebridge also called on the Attorney General to desist from prosecuting whistleblower David McBride.
the Australian Center for International Justice and the Afghan Organization for Human Rights and Democracy He welcomed the ruling, saying it was “a vindication of the public interest in investigative journalism.”
They said in a joint statement:
Together with whistleblowers, survivors and human rights advocates from Afghanistan, investigative journalists have helped launch numerous processes to account for Australia’s legacy of military involvement in Afghanistan, ranging from criminal investigations to military education reform and training in the laws of armed conflict.
In a conflict characterized by near total impunity for human rights violations, these processes – which will continue for many years to come – represent an important opportunity to uphold Australia’s commitment to international humanitarian law and to provide a measure of justice for victims and affected communities.
Fiona NelsonDirector of Legal Advocacy at the Australian Center for International Justice said:
The road to accountability, truth and justice is long. This case is an important reminder that we need courageous public interest journalism to help us get there.
These actions were also notable for the participation of witnesses from Afghanistan who gave their testimony via video link from Kabul.
Hadi is knownExecutive Director of the Afghan Human Rights and Democracy Organization:
Survivors and families of victims have the right to a full disclosure of the truth and an acknowledgment of the harm caused by Australian military operations.
Investigative journalism played a crucial role in exposing the truth and raising public awareness about what happened.
Australia’s response must respond to the needs and priorities of the victims.
Nick McKenzie and Chris Masters speak outside the court.
McKenzie describes the fight as the “toughest” of his career. He describes the day as “Justice Day”.
He said neither he nor Masters wanted to go to court.
None of the SAS witnesses wanted to go to court. Ben Roberts Smith made the case, and he came almost every day. But he didn’t come today. He’s on my mind, doing his thing.
Earlier, James Chessell, director of Nine Publishing, said:
Publishing a story of this magnitude is no easy feat, but quality investigative journalism is vital to a thriving democracy.
Chris Masters thanks the newspapers for reporting the stories and for supporting their work.
I think it will go down in history as one of the greatest appeals.
Masters says that no one gets away with feeling so “victorious.” He praises his legal team.
What was great about this was a great team alliance led by Nick Owens.
He said that journalists often feel “on their knees”.
Doing ordinary work is often difficult, let alone such work, so this judgment is a great relief to you.
Masters also says he wants to pay tribute to the soldiers who have come forward to testify.
defense minister Richard MarlisHe declined to comment on the outcome of the defamation case.
In response to a request for comment, a spokesperson for Marles said:
This is a civil libel matter to which the Commonwealth is not a party and it would be inappropriate to comment.
I am outside the Federal Courthouse in Sydney, where there is a large media presence waiting for the parties to exit the court.
There must have been more than 100 people waiting outside the doors, mostly photographers, journalists, TV presenters and mic producers.
The size of the media package is such that passers-by stop and watch. There are city workers on respite, cyclists, and even some school children.
It’s a wonderful sight. We’ll keep you posted more once the parties are out and if they make any comments about the ruling.
The union representing Australian journalists described the court’s victory as “a major and important win for journalism and press freedom in Australia”.
Karen Pearcy, who leads the media division of the Media, Entertainment, and Arts Alliance, tweeted that the judge’s ruling “endorses the media’s important role in conducting public interest investigations and in the public’s right to know.”
We’ve just published a full report on what is an impressive win for The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Canberra Times.
Our correspondent Ben Dohertywho has been covering this issue comprehensively, writes:
A federal court judge has concluded that Ben Roberts Smith VC, the most senior living Australian soldier, has lost a defamation case in which he is accused of multiple killings of unarmed civilians in Afghanistan.
Judge Anthony Psanco found that, on probabilities, Roberts-Smith kicked a handcuffed prisoner off a cliff in Durrane in 2012, before ordering a subordinate Australian soldier to shoot the injured man.
And in 2009, Roberts ordered Smith to execute an elderly man found hiding in a tunnel in a bombed-out compound, as well as kill a disabled man with a prosthetic leg during the same mission, using a Para Minimi machine gun.
Investigative journalist Nick McKenzie tweeted his initial response to the big victory.