Thursday, August 19, 2010

Afghan torture not just a problem for the government

Over on Frogblog, the Greens' Dr Kennedy Graham points out that the SAS's turning over prisoners to the torturing Afghan secret police isn't just a problem of the government failing to meet its obligations under international and domestic law - it could also see individual kiwi soldiers prosecuted, both here and overseas. If anyone they have captured has been tortured, then SAS soldiers could face charges under the International Crimes and Criminal Court Act 2000, Geneva Conventions Act 1958, or Crimes of Torture Act 1989, or equivalent overseas legislation (since every civilised country in the world claims universal jurisdiction for such crimes). Graham goes on:

This is more than just a matter of state responsibility for which the Government should investigate. It involves the personal interests of our individual soldiers, for whom the Government carries a responsibility to ensure they are not given legally precarious roles.

The government owes our soldiers a duty not to put them into situations where they will have no option but to capture and transfer. The dilemma is that this is essentially part of their mandate – their reason for being there.

And that's why we need to get them out, now. If the SAS cannot serve in Afghanistan without colluding in torture, then they should not be there. It is that simple.