Truth on Trial: War Crimes and Whistleblowers


In just a matter of days the first person will face trial in relation to Australian war crimes in Afghanistan. It is David McBride, the whistleblower who will be on trial, not an alleged war criminal.

On the eve of David McBride’s trial, a distinguished panel of experts will discuss what’s stake, what it says that whistleblower not a war criminal is facing trial, and the right to truth and accountability when whistleblowers are facing prosecution.

Join Rex Patrick, Former Senator and ‘Transparency Warrior’, Hadi Marifat, Director and co-founder of the Afghanistan Human Rights and Democracy Organization, Rawan Arraf, Executive Director of the Australian Centre for International Justice, Kieran Pender, senior lawyer at the Human Rights Law Centre, Sharara Attai, Executive Director of the Islamophobia Register Australia, as they discuss what happens when truth goes on trial.


  • Rex Patrick is a Former Senator and was known as the ‘Transparency Warrior’ during his time in the Federal Parliament. Rex is the Founder of the Whistleblower Justice Fund, a national campaign to help secure desperately overdue whistleblower reforms and fight for the rights of Australian whistleblowers facing court action under existing broken laws. Rex believes that transparency is a critical element of a representative democracy. Without transparency citizens cannot properly participate in democracy – and the likelihood of corruption or maladministration occurring increases.
  • Hadi Marifat is Director and co-founder of the Afghanistan Human Rights and Democracy Organization (AHRDO), an independent, non – governmental, non partisan and non-profit organization, which is committed to struggle to promote democracy and human rights, principally through engaging a variety of arts and culture-based programs; creating space for dialogue at all level of society, peace-building, social justice, societal transformation and public participation. Hadi and the Afghanistan Human Rights and Democracy Organization were in Kabul until 2021 when they were forced to leave. Hadi studied Politics and International Relations in the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). He has worked as researcher for Human Rights Watch and as Human Rights Officer with the UN mission in Afghanistan.
  • Rawan Arraf is the Executive Director of the Australian Centre for International Justice, an independent, not-for-profit and specialist legal centre working to develop Australia’s capacity to investigate and prosecute atrocity crimes. Rawan has ten years of legal experience in refugee protection, administrative law and international human rights law. Rawan most recently worked as a refugee lawyer at community legal centre, Refugee Advice & Casework Service providing a wide range of protection advice to people seeking asylum in Australia.
  • Kieran Pender is a senior lawyer at the Human Rights Law Centre, leading its Whistleblower Project to protect and empower Australian whistleblowers. He is also an honorary lecturer at the ANU College of Law and an award-winning writer, for Guardian Australian, The Saturday Paper and the New York Times. Kieran is a globally-recognised expert on whistleblowing laws and previously led the International Bar Association’s work on whistleblower protection best-practice.
  • Sharara Attai is an Afghan-Australian human rights lawyer who is currently the Executive Director of the Islamophobia Register Australia. Since joining the Register in December 2022, Sharara has expanded the work of the Register to incorporate education and training, and law reform work. In May 2023, under Sharara’s leadership the Islamophobia Register Australia was nominated for the 2023 ZEST awards in the category of ‘Outstanding Project: Building Stronger Inclusive Communities’. She is currently leading the development of a number of exciting new initiatives for the Register. In April 2023, Sharara became a finalist for the UNHCR – SBS Les Murray Award for Refugee Recognition due to her work with raising awareness on the plight of refugees. Prior to joining the Register, Sharara had practised refugee law for 8 years. During her years of practice, she gave legal advice, assistance and representation to countless asylum seekers and refugees from a wide variety of countries including many Afghan refugees.


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