Steps for SAS inquiry: UN

The United Nations committee against torture has asked the Government what measures have been taken to ensure full investigation into allegations about New Zealand SAS actions during a raid in Afghanistan.

Grant Bayldon
Grant Bayldon

The UN committee has published a list of 34 questions for New Zealand to report on. The Government has two years to do so.

The relevant question asks the Government to "please indicate what measures [are] in place to ensure that all allegations relating to Operation Burnham ...will be fully investigated and addressed''.

The UN published the list of questions last month.

Allegations about Operation Burnham were outlined in the book Hit & Run, which was released by journalists Jon Stephenson and Nicky Hager in March.

The book claims six civilians were killed and 15 injured in the 2010 raids, and those facts were covered up by the Defence Force.

Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee said the issue raised by the UN committee was "unfortunately based on factual inaccuracies''.

"The allegations made by Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson were disproven ... I would also like to point out that the findings of the International Security Assistance Force investigation undertaken in 2010 after Operation Burnham were available to the United Nations Assistance Mission Afghanistan at the time.''

Mr Brownlee said the Government would respond to the information request but he did not accept the question was a criticism of New Zealand or the New Zealand Defence Force.

However, Amnesty International New Zealand executive director Grant Bayldon said the request showed the matter was far from over, despite Prime Minister Bill English's decision not to hold an inquiry or independent investigation.

"We have very real concerns about the impartiality of military forces investigating military conduct. It's not too late for the Prime Minister to order a thorough, independent inquiry,'' Mr Bayldon said.

"We owe it to New Zealand's international reputation and the men and women who represent us in conflicts overseas to remove any shadow of a doubt about our military conduct.''

Mr English announced in April there would be no inquiry into allegations in Hit & Run after he received advice from Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant-general Tim Keating and saw video footage taken from aircraft during the 2010 raids.

The Prime Minister would not go into detail about what the footage showed and said it would not be publicly released.

He said Gen Keating was independent, as he was not involved in the Operation Burnham raids.

That decision was labelled "disappointing and concerning'' by Mr Hager, who said it was the result of military pressure and would ensure the issue would "continue to boil and fester''. 


The UN are paper tigers. Do little. The reply to them should be NO.