Australia veteran alleges ‘conduct after capture’ training program violates human rights, caused PTSD

Australian veteran Damien de Pyle Monday alleged that an Australian Federal Defense (ADF) conduct after capture training module left him and other soldiers with PTSD. Conduct after capture, previously known as resistance to interrogation, training is described by ADF to prepare personnel “to understand the rigors of captivity and exploitation while surviving the capture situation with dignity.”

In an interview with The Guardian and a post on his personal social media account, Pyle alleged that he was told if he did not perform sexual acts over a Bible and sexually assault a child doll, his fellow soldiers would be killed. According to Pyle, ADF trainers kept him awake for 81 hours, and he genuinely believed that his fellow soliders would literally die if he did not act. After the training program, Pyle was diagnosed with PTSD and major depressive disorder.

Pyle claims that the training amounts to torture and sexual harassment and is a violation of human rights. Pyle shared a letter from the Australian Human Rights Commission declining to investigate Pyle’s complaints under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Australian Human Rights Commission Act of 1986.

In 2016, the Australian Senate submitted an inquiry to be conducted by the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee on the “Operation of the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) resistance to interrogation (RTI) training.” The committee released a report in 2017 and raised concerns about the length of the training and the links to psychological distress. Senator Jacqui Lambie submitted questions to the Minister for Defence regarding complaints about the conduct after capture, targeting of religious beliefs of participants and the actions towards the child doll. The questions are currently unanswered.

According to The Guardian, Pyle is preparing for federal court proceedings as to the legality of this training program.