For Immediate Release
The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has now admitted that that there was a civilian casualty in the SAS raid on Baglan, Afghanistan referred to in the book Hit & Run.
In a response to an Official Information Act request sent by the Human Rights Foundation of New Zealand (HRF) in October 2016, received by the HRF just 10 days ago on 15 March, the NZDF states: “The 2010 raid in Baglan involved a suspected civilian casualty.”
Elsewhere, including on its own website, the NZDF continues to deny there were any civilian casualties. The website states:
“The New Zealand Defence Force stands by the statement it made dated 20 April 2011.
As the 2011 statement says, following the operation, allegations of civilian casualties were made. These were investigated by a joint Afghan Ministry of Defence, Ministry of the Interior and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) assessment team, in accordance with ISAF procedures.
The investigation concluded that the allegations of civilian casualties were unfounded. The NZDF does not undertake investigations or inquiries into the actions of forces from other nations. That was the role of the joint Afghan-ISAF investigation.
The NZDF is confident that New Zealand personnel conducted themselves in accordance with the applicable rules of engagement.”
Peter Hosking, HRF Chairperson, says the OIA admission reinforces the need for a thorough and independent inquiry into the revelations in Hit & Run. The inquiry should have all the powers of a Commission of Inquiry. “Given the involvement of two Defence Ministers and the former Prime Minister, it is essential that the inquiry is completely independent, not just of NZDF, but of the Government. The inquiry should be led by a senior or even international judge”.
Offiical Information Act Request and NZDF Response attached below:
Contact: Peter Hosking 021660275 PeterHosking@vodafone.co.nz
OFFICIAL INFORMATION REQUEST
21 October 2016
Private Bag 39997
Dear Sir/Madam, By Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Official information request: involvement of NZ forces in Iraq and Afghanistan
This is a request for information from the Human Rights Foundation of Aotearoa New Zealand (HRF) relating to the role and activities of the New Zealand Defence Force, including but not limited to the New Zealand Special Air Service (NZSAS), in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. New Zealand has contributed towards coalition forces deployed in these regions, and during this period are alleged to have been involved several incidents which are potentially in breach of New Zealand’s human rights obligations under international law.
These potential breaches have been raised in national media and public discussion. Some examples include Jon Stephenson’s article Eyes Wide Shut in Metro Magazine in October 2010, and the Native Affairs – Collateral Damage documentary aired on Māori Television in June 2014, also featuring Jon Stephenson.
The concerns raised include the handing over of prisoners to Iraqi, Afghan and American forces where they are believed to have been subjected to torture; the killing of Afghan nationals, believed to include civilians, in Tirgiran, Baghlan Province, in August 2010; and the killing of Afghan nationals in a raid in Kabul on 24 December 2010.
The HRF request the following information pursuant to the Official Information Act 1982 (‘the Act’) regarding New Zealand forces in Iraq from 2003 to the present date, and regarding New Zealand forces in Afghanistan from 2001 to the present date:
- Any and all information relating to the detention of prisoners by New Zealand forces, or by other forces with the assistance of New Zealand forces, including:
- the number of detainees; and for each of these:
- the dates and reasons for their detention;
- whether they were detained by New Zealand forces or by other forces and if the latter, information pertaining to the extent or nature of the involvement of New Zealand forces;
- whether they were transferred to American, Afghan or Iraqi forces or otherwise released;
- whether New Zealand authorities are aware of any involvement, direct or indirect, that New Zealand forces may have had in the torture or mistreatment of detainees in Iraq or Afghanistan.
- Any and all information regarding the involvement or participation of New Zealand forces in actions resulting in the deaths or serious injuries of civilians or non-combatants, whether the result of direct actions by New Zealand forces or by the actions of other forces operating alongside, with the cooperation of or under the supervision of New Zealand forces. Such incidents include but are not limited to:
- The raid in Band e Timur, Helmand Province, in May 2002;
- The raid in Baghlan Province in August 2010;
- The engagement near Dahane Baghak, Bamyan Province, in August 2012; and
- The 24 December 2010 Kabul raid.
- In relation to the above noted incidents, the full results of any formal inquiries conducted into the actions of New Zealand forces, including the investigation by ISAF into the raid in Baghlan.
- Material including operational manuals, rules of engagement and other material relating to the treatment of prisoners, conduct of New Zealand forces and interactions or engagements with civilians and non-combatants.
- Information relating to the role and objectives of New Zealand forces, including the NZSAS, in these deployments.
If you are in need of any clarification or further information as to the above, please do not hesitate to contact me.
I understand that a decision on a request for information under the Act should be made within 20 working days of receiving that request. Please advise if you expect to require an extension of time for this request, pursuant to section 15A of the Act.
OFFICIAL INFORMATION ACT RESPONSE