Attorney General commits to full inquiry into Hit & Run allegations
Members of the ActionStation community welcome today’s news that the Attorney General David Parker has committed to a Government Inquiry into the events in Afghanistan in 2010 as part of Operation Burnham.
“This is an opportunity for the New Zealand public to regain trust that we are acting in good faith in our international operations and a chance, at least, for the Afghan villagers and New Zealand soldiers directly affected by these events to see some sort of resolution,” says ActionStation Board member and former UN human rights investigator in Afghanistan, Marianne Elliott.
“The Terms of Reference of the Inquiry are not as broad or comprehensive as many had hoped, but the independent status and capacities and powers of this inquiry are positive signs.”
When allegations first came out in April last year with the release of the book Hit & Run, the ActionStation community were among those who called for an investigation to find out the truth about the actions of the NZ SAS.
Six civilians died in a military operation on 22 August 2010 in Afghanistan’s Baghlan Province in which the NZ SAS participated.
One of the casualties of the operation was three year old Fatima, and the inquiry announced today is an opportunity for seek justice for her.
In March this year the NZ Defence Force admitted it had misled the public with earlier claims that the SAS had been in a different place at the date and time of the operations outlined in Hit & Run.
“This reinforced concerns that an in-house NZDF investigation would not result in the kind of transparency that the New Zealand public could trust,” says Marianne Elliott.
“So we welcome this Government Inquiry, which has the power to summon witnesses, take evidence under oath and, where necessary, preserve the anonymity of those giving evidence. Having spent two years investigating civilian casualties and allegations of breaches of international humanitarian law in Afghanistan, I’m aware of the challenges that face this Inquiry, and of the importance of these powers.”
The ActionStation community called for a full inquiry alongside the volunteer group Hit & Run Campaign Inquiry with over 3900 people signing a petition that was delivered to Parliament in March.