NZ lawyers to represent Afghan raid families

by RNZ / 24 March, 2017
 Investigative journalists Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson said the house in the middle of this picture was seriously damaged in the raid but has since been rebuilt. Photo: Jon Stephenson

Pressure mounts on government following the release of a book claiming Kiwi troops killed civilians in Afghanistan.

New Zealand lawyers are taking on the case of Afghan villagers after it was claimed their relatives were killed in a raid led by New Zealand SAS troops.
Human rights lawyer Deborah Manning, who previously represented Algerian refugee Ahmed Zaoui, said she, along with Rodney Harrison QC and Richard McLeod, were representing the residents of the two villages that were raided.

Journalists Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson released the book Hit & Run on Tuesday. It alleges elite SAS troops planned and helped execute a raid on two small villages in Afghanistan, killing six civilians, including a 3-year-old girl, Fatima. Fifteen were also injured, the authors said.

Ms Manning has not been to Afghanistan but she had spoken with the villagers "very recently", she said.

"The villagers first of all would like to convey their thanks to the [New Zealand] public in terms of talking about what has happened.

"They are very touched in particular that little Fatima is being acknowledged, because she was a very beloved child of the village."

The lawyers wrote to the relevant ministers this morning seeking a Commission of Inquiry, or a Royal Commission, that has full powers to summons witnesses.

"The issues raised very squarely are issues (of) international human rights law, namely the right to life and also international humanitarian law which includes war crimes."

Hager and Stephenson said they had sourced information for Hit & Run from more than three dozen people, including members of the New Zealand military and Afghan security forces.

They are calling for Prime Minister Bill English to launch a full inquiry.

Mr English, speaking before the lawyers made their announcement, reiterated today that the statement of allegations was not enough to call an inquiry.

"You need to make sure there's some substance to the allegations and that there is some point to having an inquiry."

Mr English has said the SAS abided by the rules of engagement during the raid. He will meet Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee and Chief of the Defence Force Lieutenant General Tim Keating on Sunday to discuss the claims made in the book.

Wayne Mapp was Defence Minister at the time of the operation and said he now accepted that civilians died during the attacks but said soldiers were acting in the belief they were under attack.

Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett has said she was not disturbed by information she had seen about the book, that the SAS was highly regarded and she had faith in the Defence Force.

Deborah Manning represented Ahmed Zaoui in his high-profile case to have a security risk certificate overturned after he was imprisoned following his arrival in New Zealand in 2002 seeking refugee status.

This article was originally published by RNZ.

Latest

What's happening to New Zealand's recycling after the China import ban?
96784 2018-09-25 13:50:58Z Environment

What's happening to New Zealand's recycling after …

by Nita Blake-Persen

Tracing exactly where New Zealand's plastic goes when it leaves our ports is incredibly difficult.

Read more
How heart surgeon Alan Kerr saved a woman's life twice in three decades
96715 2018-09-25 00:00:00Z Social issues

How heart surgeon Alan Kerr saved a woman's life t…

by Donna Chisholm

Renowned surgeon Alan Kerr saved Donna Lander’s life in 1987. This year – thanks to a Listener story and a three-line email – he saved her again.

Read more
What the principal missed: How truancy is the symptom of a toxic environment
96763 2018-09-25 00:00:00Z Social issues

What the principal missed: How truancy is the symp…

by Aaron Hendry

A principal's controversial speech on truancy dangerously ignored the issues today's young people face, writes youth development worker Aaron Hendry.

Read more
Fighting fast fashion: the rise of ethical consumerism
95853 2018-09-25 00:00:00Z Business

Fighting fast fashion: the rise of ethical consume…

by Mina Phillips

In the era of fast fashion, what can consumers do to ensure what they're buying hasn't been made by exploited workers?

Read more
Naseby's chilliest night means a rare opportunity for curling
96697 2018-09-25 00:00:00Z Sport

Naseby's chilliest night means a rare opportunity …

by Guy Frederick

Weather conditions have to be perfect for an outdoor curling match – last winter, for the first time in seven years, Naseby delivered.

Read more
Students walk out of Hamilton high school over principal's truancy comments
96723 2018-09-24 14:06:35Z Education

Students walk out of Hamilton high school over pri…

by RNZ

More than 100 students walked out of a Hamilton high school in protest after the principal said truants are more likely to wind up being a rape victim

Read more
Colin Craig drops damages claim against former press secretary
96717 2018-09-24 13:10:01Z Politics

Colin Craig drops damages claim against former pre…

by RNZ

Colin Craig has withdrawn his claims for damages against his former press secretary Rachel MacGregor but is still suing her for defamation.

Read more
PM in New York: Ardern's first speech focuses on lifting children from poverty
96691 2018-09-24 07:54:36Z Politics

PM in New York: Ardern's first speech focuses on l…

by Chris Bramwell

Jacinda Ardern has used her first speech in the US to recommit the government to making New Zealand the best place in the world to be a child.

Read more