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War crimes: Old report same story

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16 November 2010 17:32

The NYT has obtained a complete version of a US Justice Department report into the history of Nazi war crimes prosecutions in the US. It also contains details of Australia's approach to the problem. As the SMH reports it, the history:

...portrays Australian efforts to prosecute suspected Nazi war criminals as lacklustre at best. It also describes Australian attitudes to Nazi "persecutors" as "ambivalent" and quotes observations by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre that Australia's poor record in pursuing Nazis was explained by "a lack of the requisite political will".

The report was completed in 2006 and focused on Nazi suspects. However, if anything, Australia's approach has probably become worse. An attempt was actually made to try three Nazi suspects living in Australia in the late 80s and early 90s. For modern day suspected war criminals living in Australia there have been no determined efforts to bring them to justice.

For proof of a continuing lack of political will, consider this statistic from a Senate question last year: the number of staff in the war crimes screening unit has actually been more than halved since 2008 to just five people. 

Australia can expect more reports like this one in the future.

Photo by Flickr user Michael Dawes, used under a Creative Commons licence.

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