Operation Burnham inquiry warranted ‘in the public interest’

Attorney General David Parker announced this afternoon that there would be an inquiry into Operation Burnham, the attackn in Afghanistan that has been criticised in the book Hit & Run.

“In deciding whether to initiate an inquiry I have considered material including certain video footage of the operation. The footage I have reviewed does not seem to me to corroborate some key aspects of the book Hit & Run.

“The footage suggests that there was a group of armed individuals in the village.

“However, the material I have seen does not conclusively answer some of the questions raised by the authors.

“In light of that, and bearing in mind the need for the public to have confidence in the NZDF, I have decided in the public interest that an inquiry is warranted.”

The inquiry’s terms of reference include:

  • The allegations of civilian deaths.
  • The allegation that NZDF knowingly transferred a man to a prison where he would be tortured.
  • The allegation that soldiers returned to the valley to destroy homes on purpose.

Approval for Inquiry into Operation Burnham

Attorney-General David Parker has today announced a Government Inquiry will be held into Operation Burnham and related events.

The operation undertaken in Tirgiran Valley, Afghanistan, by NZSAS troops and other nations’ forces operating as part of the International Security Assistance Force took place on 21-22 August 2010.

It was the subject of the book Hit & Run by authors Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson which contained a number of serious allegations against New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel involved in the operation.

“In deciding whether to initiate an inquiry I have considered material including certain video footage of the operation,” says Mr Parker.

“The footage I have reviewed does not seem to me to corroborate some key aspects of the book Hit & Run.

“The footage suggests that there was a group of armed individuals in the village.

“However, the material I have seen does not conclusively answer some of the questions raised by the authors.

“In light of that, and bearing in mind the need for the public to have confidence in the NZDF, I have decided in the public interest that an inquiry is warranted.”

Commissioning this inquiry does not mean the Government accepts the criticisms of the actions of SAS forces on the ground, although their conduct is squarely within the inquiry’s purview and will be thoroughly examined.\

The inquiry, established under s 6(3) of the Inquiries Act 2013, will be undertaken by two persons of the highest repute, former Supreme Court judge Sir Terence Arnold and Sir Geoffrey Palmer. As required by statute, it will act independently, impartially and fairly.

Given the classified nature of some information that will be made available to the inquiry, it is possible that two forms of report will be provided; one a public version and a second version referring to classified or confidential information.

Mr Parker said the inquiry would seek to establish the facts in connection with the allegations, examine the treatment by NZDF of reports of civilian casualties following the operation, and assess the conduct of the NZDF forces, including compliance with the applicable rules of engagement and international humanitarian law and the authorisation – military and, if any, political – for Operation Burnham.

It will assess the status – civilian or insurgent – of the Afghan nationals in the area of the operation.

It will also assess the extent to which NZDF rules of engagement authorised “targeted killings” and whether this was clearly explained to those involved in approving the rules of engagement.

The accuracy of public statements made by NZDF and the accuracy of written briefings to ministers about civilian casualties will also fall within the inquiry’s scope.

The inquiry will also be asked to examine whether NZDF’s transport and/or transfer of suspected insurgent Qari Miraj in 2011 to the Afghanistan National Directorate of Security in Kabul was proper given, amongst other matters, the June 2010 decision of the High Court of England and Wales in R (on the application of Evans) v Secretary of State for Defence.

The inquiry, in common with all inquiries under the Inquiries Act, has no power to determine the civil, criminal, or disciplinary liability of any person. However it may, if justified, make findings of fault and recommend further steps be taken to determine liability.

Inquiry_into_Operation_Burnham__Terms_of_Reference.pdf

Media_Q_and_A_Operation_Burnham.pdf

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44 Comments

  1. Ray

     /  April 11, 2018

    “In the public interest”
    It will be impartial, independent, and fair.
    And do to prove that we will have an ex Labour Prime Minister make sure that happens?
    Jobs for the boys eh.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  April 11, 2018

      Somebody needs to do one because the NZDF top brass has shown itself to be unreliable and somewhat devious.

      Reply
      • robertguyton

         /  April 11, 2018

        Good on this Government. Shame on the last.

        Reply
        • sorethumb

           /  April 12, 2018

          You cant call Adern’s government “populist” [except with the left]

          Reply
    • Blazer

       /  April 11, 2018

      Arnold is not one of the ‘boys’.Palmer is the old school prefect type.Can be relied on to be fair and impartial.This is collateral damage from Honky Tonks of ‘get some guts’…fame.

      Reply
  2. robertguyton

     /  April 11, 2018

    “Exkiwiforces 1
    11 April 2018 at 6:25 pm
    The terms of reference for the Inquiry into Op Burnham are interesting to say the least and I’m looking forward to following this Inquiry to the end. Might have to buy the bloody book now since the inquiry is a go for launch.

    I’m wondering if this was part of the horse trading that I heard about a wee while ago IOT keep the DWP funding sort of on track and also in light of what has happen in the last 24 odd hrs in our sleepy backwater to the South Pacific?

    They couldn’t pick a better two people to lead this inquiry btw.

    http://img.scoop.co.nz/media/pdfs/1804/Inquiry_into_Operation_Burnham__Terms_of_Reference.pdf

    PS, I see the supporters of the [Use party names – PG] are already jumping up and down screaming blue murder about the inquiry.”

    Reply
    • ” jumping up and down screaming blue murder”

      All I’ve seen is Bridges saying that he thinks it’s a waste of time and money.

      Reply
    • robertguyton

       /  April 11, 2018

      “Use party names”
      Is “watermelons” a party name? You don’t delete that when it’s used here, then write, “Use party names”
      Why is that?

      Reply
      • I’m not always on hand to deal with everything as it arises, I don’t want to be draconian, and sometimes things sort themselves out – as happened yesterday with discussion on Nazi versus watermelon.

        If you’re referring to a party, use the party name. That’s been a long standing convention here. It makes things clear and simple, and stops creeping abuse.

        That doesn’t preclude using descriptive terms for parties.

        Reply
        • robertguyton

           /  April 11, 2018

          Such as the “let the hospitals rot” Nats?

          Reply
          • ‘Nats’ is passable if it’s not used in a derogatory way.

            If you just attaching a critical phrase without substantiating it makes less than a poor argument for what you are trynng to say, it just looks like a lame If you make a habit of lame shots that;s likely to affect your credibility.

            Reply
            • robertguyton

               /  April 11, 2018

              Why then, do you let “watermelons” pass?
              It’s intended to be derogatory, is unsubstantiated and looks lame, yet, you’ve never deleted it and required of the author to consider their credibility. Seems hypocritical to me.

            • I explained why I let it pass yesterday. You seem hypersensitive to critical descriptions for someone who dishes them out frequently. Seems hypocritical to me.

              Moderation is imperfect, I deal with things as I see them and as I have time to deal with them, and I’m not going to get in an extended argument about it.

            • robertguyton

               /  April 11, 2018

              I guess we’ll see what you do, the next time some cranky ACToid uses it 🙂

            • And there you go again, expecting different standards from others.

            • I’m not sure why you object so much to a description that suggests a green party in name that has socialism as a core objective. Is that not a reasonable depiction of the New Zealand Green Party?

            • Zedd

               /  April 11, 2018

              @RG

              just laugh at their narrow-minded TORY attitudes.. most of them are still in DENIAL about being in opposition, after 9 LOOOOOOONG years

              I used to get annoyed being called ‘LOONY LEFT’ but then I just ignored it OR pointed it out & its mostly gone away now (esp. 1-2 of these ‘folks’/trolls in here) who actually think it funny to be soooo abusive

              Greens ARE in Govt. Enjoy Robert 😀 😀 😀

            • TORY is not a New Zealand term. When I see it used here it seems to be intended as some sort of derogatory term, but it’s fairly meaningless.

            • robertguyton

               /  April 11, 2018

              Thanks, Zedd, your advice is sound. I suppose some would have bristled at your use of TORY, but they could just ignore it 🙂
              Your reminder that “Greens Are in Govt.” is a pleasant one and should give everyone here a lift to their spirit – it’s wonderful to at last have a Government with what has been the missing hue.

            • robertguyton

               /  April 11, 2018

              TORY is used so often that it’s intended meaning is widely understood. Our Tories might not be quite so toffee-nosed as the British, nor do the thing with the pig’s head, but they are ideological blue-blood-brothers, cut from the same cloth (tweed) so the use of the term doesn’t miss the mark by much. I’m sure Pete won’t mind its use here too much.

            • If you want to look petty and pathetic, take your chances.

              TORY may be often used at The Standard but I hardly see it used anywhere else. Most Kiwis are likely to have no idea what it is supposed to mean.

              I don’t know what it’s intended meaning is in New Zealand, I think it depends on who spits it out.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  April 11, 2018

              I always allow the loony Left to self identify, Zedd. They are usually keen to do so.

            • robertguyton

               /  April 11, 2018

              Tories too, stick out like a high-tea-drinkers little pinkie.

            • robertguyton

               /  April 11, 2018

              I don’t care about the use of “watermelons”, Pete. In fact, I feel an affinity for any vegetable-based tags. All I’m trying to do is alert you to a bias you have but can’t seem to see. Is it a reasonable description of the Greens? No, Pete, it’s intended to be derogatory, as you know. Your question is facetious.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  April 11, 2018

              Watermelon is strictly descriptive – Green on the outside, red on the inside. Political discourse must be allowed to be analytical and critical. That is distinguishable from mindless abuse.

            • robertguyton

               /  April 11, 2018

              Alan, surely you don’t believe what you write – certainly no one else would; “strictly descriptive’ – bullish*t.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  April 11, 2018

              It is exactly that, Robert. The Greens pretend to be environmentalists but are actually extreme left socialists. The metaphor is exact.

            • Zedd

               /  April 12, 2018

              @PG
              TORY may not be a ‘kiwi thing’ BUT it is a generic term for the Right-wing Globalists, Ive even heard it used by NZ MPs.. recently

    • robertguyton

       /  April 11, 2018

      Bullsh*t, Alan, your bitterness toward the Greens and supporters and your opinion of who and what they are is not reality and tiresome to experience, over and over. Oddly, you seem to be totally unaware of how unhinged your view is.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  April 11, 2018

        I’m not in the slightest bitter, Robert. You seem to be though. I just call it as I see it. You may recall I congratulated them for giving their questions to National. A pity their commitment to open government, transparency and disavowal of patsy questions evaporated so quickly.

        Reply
        • robertguyton

           /  April 11, 2018

          Perhaps, Alan, I could ease your green-griping by sharing some of the very enjoyable experiences I’ve had as a Green supporter, a Green candidate (Clutha/Southland) and a green thinker .. no, on reflection, you’d be completely impervious to my efforts, that’s plain; best we just continue to slag each other’s views – it’s easier that way; old dogs, new tricks…

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  April 11, 2018

            As far as I can see you are the only one slagging off others’ views, Robert. I have been critical of politicians’ actions and statements with reason. You, however, merely slag. Go read what you have written in this thread to appreciate that.

            Reply
    • sorethumb

       /  April 12, 2018

      The Green left is on the other side. Eg ““The Greens support responsible access to the foreshore, which is compatible with Customary Ownership governed by tikanga Maori and the concept of public domain.
      “The clearest example is Lake Taupo, where ownership of the lake bed rests with Maori but everyone enjoys recreational access.”
      Metiria Turie

      Reply
  3. Added to post:

    And added a post: https://yournz.org/2018/04/11/hager-and-stephenson-respond-to-operation-burnham-inquiry/

    Reply
  4. Zedd

     /  April 11, 2018

    can it be.. Natl are part of a ‘cover up’.. surely not ?! :/

    Reply
  5. NOEL

     /  April 11, 2018

    Two accusations have been made.
    1. That a prisoner was inappropriately handled whist in NZ custody. That was not proven to have occurred.
    2. The other was that the mission was a revenge raid for earlier New Zealander losses.

    I’m guessing that the second won’t be confirmed by this inquiry.
    I’m also guessing Stephenson and Hager won’t accept the result given their silence on the investigation of the first accusation.

    Reply
  6. sorethumb

     /  April 12, 2018

    “In light of that, and bearing in mind the need for the public to have confidence in the NZDF, I have decided in the public interest that an inquiry is warranted.”
    …………
    The Public are more concerned about confidence in the government. Transgressions by our military are of maximum interest to the left. Compare that to the urewera Raids where Nicky Hager poured cold water on any significance of the bugged conversations.

    Reply
  7. Missy

     /  April 12, 2018

    Interesting timing of announcing this inquiry. The Government – and the PM in particular – have not had an easy time of it lately, and the PM’s credibility around being an open and transparent Government is looking shaky after the Curran debacle. It all seems so convenient to divert attention away from their (so far) lack of openness and transparency that was promised.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  April 12, 2018

      Key’s claim compliments of CT ,that his was the most transparent Govt ever…is a very low hurdle.

      Reply
      • Missy

         /  April 13, 2018

        A hurdle that Jacinda can’t even jump over, what does that say about her claims of being the most open and transparent government?

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  April 13, 2018

          my transparent govt is more transparent than your transparent govt was….is..isn’t..is…

          Reply
  8. Revel

     /  April 12, 2018

    Conclusion after Geoffrey Palmer spends years and millions dollars – NZDF did nothing wrong. Labour remember Corngate. Clark will be behind the scenes ensuring Hager is as discredited by the end of this as he is to most correct thinking people.

    Reply

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