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.


If I were a rich man: A grammarian on the nettlesome subjunctive
98551 2018-11-19 00:00:00Z Diversions

If I were a rich man: A grammarian on the nettleso…

by Ray Prebble

Many people find themselves using one or other of these subjunctive forms without really knowing why.

Read more
As China shuts its gates to our plastics and paper, how can NZ stem the tide?
99059 2018-11-19 00:00:00Z Planet

As China shuts its gates to our plastics and paper…

by Veronika Meduna

Unless we get serious about recycling, there’ll be a tonne of plastic for every three tonnes of fish in the ocean by 2025.

Read more
Heights of contradiction: American and Israeli Jews' complicated relationship
99055 2018-11-18 00:00:00Z World

Heights of contradiction: American and Israeli Jew…

by Todd Pitock

Todd Pitock's travels through Israel reveal the true differences between American and Israeli Jews.

Read more
The Democrat's midterm wins spell the end of Trump's dream run
99105 2018-11-18 00:00:00Z World

The Democrat's midterm wins spell the end of Trump…

by Paul Thomas

Far from being Trump’s near-“complete victory”, the midterms mean opportunities for rigging electoral boundaries have swung back towards the Dems.

Read more
Sally Rooney's Normal People has the makings of a classic
99094 2018-11-18 00:00:00Z Books

Sally Rooney's Normal People has the makings of a …

by Kiran Dass

Normal People is sharply observed portrait of an on-off romance and a book you need to read.

Read more
Why you should avoid 'eating for two' during pregnancy
98747 2018-11-18 00:00:00Z Health

Why you should avoid 'eating for two' during pregn…

by Ruth Nichol

Doubling down on food during pregnancy is out, unless it’s diet quality we’re talking about.

Read more
The long, slow goodbye to Angela Merkel
99173 2018-11-17 00:00:00Z World

The long, slow goodbye to Angela Merkel

by Cathrin Schaer

German Chancellor Angela Merkel plans to leave the job in 2021, but that’s not soon enough for some.

Read more
Silent witness: The forgotten NZ movie star
97576 2018-11-17 00:00:00Z Movies

Silent witness: The forgotten NZ movie star

by Paul Little

One of the earliest and possibly least known NZ movie stars is Eve Balfour, a silent-movie actress, born in Christchurch in 1890.

Read more