New Zealand soldiers possibly complicit in torture in Afghanistan

How many US or Australians are potentially equally responsible for caring too little about gross breaches of human rights?

Labour is adding its support to calls for an inquiry into claims Kiwi troops handed over Afghan prisoners to authorities who tortured them.

Journalist Jon Stephenson claimed on TVNZ’s Marae programme that NZ’s Special Forces in Afghanistan are “very involved in arresting prisoners and transferring those prisoners to Afghans, who are likely to torture them”.

New Zealand Defence Force rules, and international laws, say troops can not hand over prisoners to another country if there is evidence they will be tortured or mistreated.

“I have absolute confidence in the integrity of the SAS people themselves,” Labour leader Phil Goff told TV ONE’s Breakfast.

“What I have less confidence about is if prisoners are being handed across then what happens when they’re given to the Afghan authorities – they’re notoriously corrupt and notorious for ill-treatment of their prisoners.”

Goff was Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2002 when he said the SAS handed over 55 Taliban suspects to US and Canadian forces. He only found out about the incident five years later.

He said the prisoners had been handed over in good faith because the New Zealand forces did not have suitable facilities for keeping them.

“Subsequent revelations show the treatment of Afghan prisoners by those authorities was less than acceptable from our point of view.

“We did not take prisoners and hand them over for some time after that.”

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