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Eye On The World – With Glenn Williams & Selwyn Manning

Radio Wammo: Eye On The World – With Glenn Williams & Selwyn Manning

Glenn Williams hosts Eye On The World, a weekly look at foreign affairs with Scoop's Selwyn Manning.

This week

Run Sheet:

There has been a plethora of information circulating on Afghanistan.

Wikileaks yesterday released hundreds of documents – intelligence reports collated on those people held as prisoners at Guantanamo Bay by US Military Forces.

And in Kandahar Afghanistan: 540 members of the Taliban including military commanders escaped on the weekend from Kandahar prison via a 320 metre-long tunnel, Afghan government officials have confirmed to Al Jazeera.

And here in New Zealand, a Metro Magazine investigation by award winning investigative journalist Jon Stephenson alleges the New Zealand Defence Force has handed over Afghani detainees to US and Afghani interrogation units, knowing that they will likely be tortured.

The investigation presents information gathered from Kiwi SAS soldiers and also presents interviews with Afghanis who had been detained and claim they were tortured and witnessed torture while detained by US and Afghan interrogation units.

Now it is against International Law for a country's soldiers to hand over people under such circumstances. New Zealand is a signatory to the Geneva Conventions, and also New Zealand recognises the International Criminal Court and its jurisdiction.

From the comments emitting from the NZ Government, our Defence Minister Wayne Mapp says: ''I can assure you that basically we do everything properly. You would expect that of New Zealand soldiers. They expect that of themselves.''

Mapp added: The troops conducted themselves with the professionalism expected of them, and understood their responsibilities and the impact on New Zealand's reputation.

''I have taken a special interest in this, and, yes, I am satisfied, and I know that NATO-ISAF has taken a much closer approach on this and worked, actually, in building the capacity of the Afghan government to, frankly, obey the principles and norms of international law.''

That was Defence Minister Mapp.

But we understand that the NZDF ensured it complied with International law by ensuring it was not the official handler of Afghani prisoners.

For example: After the 2002 round-up, NZDF legal heads developed a policy where our Kiwi soldiers would round up the Afghani suspects, all the while having a representative from the US military or Afghan security forces present. It was this individual that would then sign the documents handing over the prisoners to US interrogators.

What happened to the captives from there was anyone's guess, and that is what concerned the Kiwi SAS soldiers. Much of the Metro article centres on their concerns!

But the Prime Minister John Key said last night from London: ''I see nothing that has indicated to me that New Zealanders have done anything other than what we would expect them to do and to have acted in line with both the Geneva Convention and the signed protocols that we have as part of the operation in Afghanistan.''

He added: ''I'm totally confident New Zealanders have acted in line with that convention. When people have been under New Zealand care they've be treated properly.''

New Zealand is not the first socially liberal democracy to face this legal dilemma: Denmark had to confront this very issue after an investigative journalist there uncovered a similar situation where Danish special forces were found to have been handing over prisoners to US interrogators who were found to have used torture to obtain information from the detainees, the people handed over.

Frankly, with respect to New Zealand... the Metro investigation raises issues of both law and morality.

Questions remain unanswered here...

Has the Prime Minister possibly been complicit in a cover up, possibly been misled, or has he been reliably informed?

The issues of law raised in the investigation demand attention from an impartial adjudicator. The issues of morality demand explanation from those who act in our name.

The article raises citable and provable points of concern.

Surely an inquiry into this matter is not only advisable, it is essential should New Zealanders be called on to respect and honour the incoming Governor General designate and former head of the armed forces Jerry Mateparae – the man who has been advising the government that all is well in Afghanistan.

Eye On The World broadcasts on KiwiFM and Radio Wammo at 7:40am on Tuesdays. Video on demand episodes also webcast on Scoop.co.nz.

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