Independent Inquiry Relating to Afghanistan

This collection brings together all publicly available documents – including transcripts, submissions, rulings, witness statements and exhibits – produced by the ongoing Independent Inquiry Relating to Afghanistan. Announced in December 2022, the Inquiry was set up to examine allegations of extrajudicial killings of civilians by UK Special Forces in Afghanistan, between mid-2010 and mid-2013, and the Ministry of Defence and Royal Military Police’s (RMP) response to those allegations. As well as investigating allegations of the war crimes themselves, the Inquiry – chaired by Lord Justice Haddon-Cave – has Terms of Reference which include investigating whether the RMP adequately investigated allegations of a cover-up of these deaths, both at the time and in the intervening years.

The Inquiry is the culmination of extensive reporting, litigation, and pressure from civil society organisations. Investigations by BBC Panorama and The Sunday Times, published at a number of points since 2017, have claimed that SAS units had executed scores of unarmed individuals in Afghanistan during a campaign of night raids, known formally as Deliberate Detention Operations (DDOs). Alongside these investigations, two judicial review proceedings – Saifullah v. Secretary of State for Defence and Noorzai v. Secretary of State for Defence – were brought by the relatives of eight Afghan boys and men who were killed by UKSF during night raids in 2011 and 2012. Both proceedings, launched in 2019 and 2020, sought to challenge the Ministry of Defence’s failure to conduct a prompt and effective investigation into those deaths.

The Inquiry also follows the publication of a major report of the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force (IGADF), known as the Brereton Report, in 2020. The IGADF inquiry, which ran 2016-20, found credible evidence that Australian Special Forces had committed war crimes in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2016, in at least 23 incidents that resulted in the murder of 39 individuals. These findings are particularly significant in the UK context, given how closely British, US, and Australian Special Forces operated together in Afghanistan.