Australian Defence Force Targeting of Daesh

Media release
01 Sep 2016
Prime Minister, Minister for Defence

The Australian Defence Force now has the full authority needed to target all members of Daesh, in accordance with international law. This ensures we can continue to meet the evolving national security threat of this decade and well beyond.

The Government has reviewed its policy on targeting enemy combatants and made an important decision to ensure our forces are empowered to act against Daesh in Iraq and Syria to the maximum extent allowed by international law.

This now includes targeting those who may not openly take up arms but are still key to Daesh’s fighting capability.

Australia’s domestic law is more restrictive than international law. This created some legal risk for our armed forces and posed a major challenge to the effectiveness of our operations. It meant that the ADF’s targeting base in Iraq and Syria was restricted, and we could not operate as freely as our coalition partners.

The Government will quickly move to introduce the necessary amendments to the Commonwealth Criminal Code that will bring our domestic laws into line with international norms.

This means that ADF personnel will be supported by our domestic laws. They will be able to target Daesh at its core – joining with our coalition partners to target a broader range of Daesh combatants – consistent with international law.

The ADF’s contribution to the fight against Daesh has been a critical part of the Coalition campaign. Our contribution has always been conducted in accordance with strict rules of engagement that are consistent with Australia’s international legal obligations. We are committed to do all we can to combat Daesh while also providing greater certainty for ADF personnel.