Home > Hill won’t release abuse dossier for risk of offending US

Hill won’t release abuse dossier for risk of offending US

by Open-Publishing - Tuesday 22 June 2004

Wars and conflicts International Prison USA Tom Allard

By Tom Allard, Defence Reporter

The Federal Government has refused to make public a detailed 61-page dossier outlining what Australians knew about prisoner abuse in Iraq, with the Minister for Defence, Robert Hill, claiming some details would offend the US.

Senator Hill was yesterday censured in the Senate for his role in misleading Parliament and his failure to take responsibility for the false statements made by him, the Prime Minister and senior Defence officials.

Senator Hill had been asked why he chose to make a 5 page correcting statement when Defence had given him the comprehensive report plus nine large folders of supporting documents.

"The so-called [61-page] report ... was a brief to me," he said. "It is not the practice of this Government or previous governments to table its briefs," he said, adding that Parliament had been "fully informed".

Among the material was a scathing assessment of US detention practices, in the form of a situation report, written by Australian military lawyer Lieutenant-Colonel Paul Muggleton, who was stationed with the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad.


Senator Hill said Colonel Muggleton’s situation report was not released "because I did not think it was in the best interests of our relationship with the US".

"I would hope in the same circumstances, before a US congressional committee, any comments that the US officials might make about Australia would not be put on the public record as well," he said.

Labor, the Democrats and the Greens have been calling for Senator Hill to resign after last week’s correcting statement.

Three weeks ago the Herald revealed Australian military lawyers knew about abuses in Iraq from October, liaised with the Red Cross over the issue and drafted a reply to their concerns which said that some prisoners were outside the Geneva conventions.

Senator Hill and the Prime Minister, John Howard, denied the report for almost a week but then confirmed it, admitting they had misled the public.

They blamed the Defence department for giving them the wrong information.

Despite knowing on Sunday, May 30 that they had made many wrong statements, Senator Hill, the Defence Force chief, General Peter Cosgrove, and the Defence Department secretary, Ric Smith, waited until 12.30pm on Tuesday before confessing.

The three had been questioned for 15 hours.