Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Careless about torture

On Monday the UN released a report on torture in Afghanistan, showing that 50% of prisoners held by the Afghan National Directorate of Security had been tortured. The NZ SAS, currently deployed in Kabul, hands prisoners over to these monsters, and yesterday Defence Minister Wayne Mapp was forced to admit that he could not rule out that those prisoners had been tortured:

The SAS train and partner the Crisis Response Unit in Kabul, who commonly transfer people they capture to the NDS.

Dr Mapp said some ended up in the facility known as 17/40 in Kabul, which is one of a number of centres where torture has been alleged, although the UN is still investigating.

He said the CRU have captured 58 suspects with the help of the SAS since their rotation started in September 2009.

"I've been advised by the Defence Force that they have no reports of anyone who's been arrested by the CRU having been tortured."

But the Defence Force did not track each person to ensure that was the case. "Anyone arrested by the CRU, their names are supplied to Nato/ISAF (International Security Assistance Force). We then essentially leave it to Nato/ISAF to do further tracking."

This is simply careless. The NDS have been dogged by torture allegations for years, to the extent that the UK were banned by their courts from handing prisoners to them. And yet we've been handing prisoners to known torturers without taking any real steps to ensure their safety - in clear contravention of our duties under the Geneva Conventions and Convention Against Torture. And by doing so, we've exposed New Zealand soldiers to possible war crimes charges.

The NZDF has responsibilities, both under international law and to the people of New Zealand. If they help capture people, they have an obligation to ensure they are well treated. Until Afghanistan ends torture, that should rule out any further transfers to Afghan authorities. It is that simple.