John Key says his government will review the long-standing convention of secrecy over Special Air Service operations. He needs to lift the veil on much more than that
As predicted, New Zealanders learned where the NZSAS is based in
This is, at least, the fourth time this has happened. The White House listed the NZSAS as a component of Operation Enduring Freedom before Helen Clark had told us it was deployed. The Germans confirmed they were working alongside the Kiwis. The Danes disclosed that the NZSAS was concerned about the treatment of its prisoners. Then, the Americans detailed the nature of SAS operations in a presidential citation awarded to the unit for its bravery in the field.
Prime Minister Key was quick to admit that the latest revelation made the government effort to keep the location of the NZSAS base a secret look ridiculous. He promises to review the secrecy convention that is imposed at the request of the New Zealand Defence Force.
He should broaden the brief for this review. Defence and diplomatic officials have an entrenched determination to operate under the veil whenever possible. A couple of recent examples serve to make the point.
First, there is the long-standing resistance to addressing our responsibilities to ensure that any prisoners taken by
In the eight years since
Now the NZSAS is back to combat duty the questions about prisoner treatment take on new urgency. Has the new government made any progress? Make what you will of the following answer from Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully.
“I can confirm that
“These include formal assurances that detainees so transferred will be treated in accordance with applicable international humanitarian and human rights laws and the international obligations of both participants… This includes the non-application of the death penalty.”
Were these “assurances” verbal – all that Defence Minister Phil Goff obtained in negotiations dating back to the beginning of 2006 – or written? Do they provide for any independent monitoring of the kind that other governments have negotiated with the Afghan government?
McCully does speak about “documents” in his formal explanation for withholding further information about the “formal assurances”, but he offers no specific description of their nature. He says
“…the release of information would prejudice the entrusting of information to the Government of
Strange stuff when we are talking about the humane treatment of prisoners and detainees under international law.
The next illustration of the overly secretive attitude being adopted on
Karzai subsequently watered down a few of its most noxious provisions, and whisked it into law in a last minute bid to secure the votes to be delivered by Afghanistan’s conservative Shiite clerics and elders in the still unresolved August election.
As amended, the Shi’ite Personal Status Law condones traditional practices that see under-age girls being forced into marriages against their will, enables husbands to deny sustenance to wives who refuse their sexual demands, denies women guardianship of their children, and makes it impossible for Shi’ite wives to inherit houses and land from their husbands.
It is a clear breach of
You probably do not know that
Now, Minister McCully offers the following explanation of
Could we have a copy of the law as it was enacted?
What kind of relationship is this? Opposition leader Phil Goff has already decided that it is not worth spilling