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Court Of Inquiry Announced

1 July 2008

Court Of Inquiry Announced

The Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General Jerry Mateparae has convened a Court of Inquiry to find out why NZDF housing allowances were paid to up to five officers in receipt of UN housing allowances while seconded to the United Nations in New York.

Lieutenant General Mateparae said, "I want to determine how this
situation came about and ensure that we are complying with United Nations rules. If we haven't been, I will take steps to make sure that we do follow the proper guidelines."

The court of inquiry has been directed to determine;

a. To what extent was the provision of any such assistance in conflict with United Nations Staff Rules and Regulations, or any other United Nations rules that applied to seconded staff?

b. Were any staff officers who were responsible for, or involved in, the development of the relevant accommodation assistance policy aware of any conflict with the relevant United Nations rules and, if so, who?

c. If staff officers were aware of a conflict or potential conflict with the relevant United Nations rules, why did they develop the policy in that manner?

The outcome of the Court of Inquiry is expected by the end of this month and its findings will be made public.

The New Zealand Defence Force accommodation allowance is no longer paid to New Zealand Defence Force staff seconded to the UN.

No further comment will be made on this matter until the Court of Inquiry is completed.

ENDS

BACKGROUND - COURT OF INQUIRY:

A Court of Inquiry is a legally constituted fact-finding body which is assembled under section 200 of the Armed Forces Discipline Act 1971. It has the power to summons witnesses, evidence given before it is generally on oath and contempt of its proceedings is an offence.

It does not, however, make findings of guilt or blame and it has no power to punish. Courts of Inquiry are commonly used to investigate events which could affect future operations, both inside and beyond New Zealand. Courts of Inquiry provide a speedy and effective method by which the causes of such events can be ascertained, so that action can be taken to avoid a repetition of the event.

It should be noted, however, that the report of a court of inquiry is purely the expression of the opinion of the Court based on the evidence it has heard. Accordingly any of the findings of the Court which may affect individuals outside of the NZDF cannot be regarded as definitive until they have had the opportunity to be heard on the matter.

For rules relating to the proceedings of courts of inquiry see Part 14 of the Armed Forces Discipline Rules of Procedure 1983.

ENDS

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