Thursday, July 23, 2020

The NZDF procured torture

Last week the Hit and Run inquiry reported back, and the report is currently sitting on Andrew Little's desk. Meanwhile, one of the subjects of the inquiry - Taliab commander Qari Miraj - has spoken out about what happened to him at the hands of the SAS. he gives an account his his detention and beating at the hands of SAS soldiers, which is backed by SAS witnesses. There's more there about how he was tortured by the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) and how he was beaten and electrocuted by them. And then there's this bit:

Miraj has told Stuff, New Zealand and Afghan NDS personnel were “working jointly” during the period he was tortured. He said on one occasion four New Zealand personnel – two of them with weapons – came to his cell with NDS officers and took him to another room to question him. Two of the New Zealanders were carrying intelligence reports about him.

He believed New Zealanders and the NDS were sharing reports.

Miraj said no New Zealand personnel were present when he was being tortured. However, he said it was “a hundred per cent” clear from questions he was asked under interrogation by the NDS that questions had been given to them by New Zealanders.

Asked if he believed that New Zealand personnel were using NDS interrogators to extract information from him that could be used in the hunt for other insurgents involved in the attack on the PRT convoy, Miraj said: “Exactly, exactly.”

This has creepy echoes of MI6's collusion in torture - essentially, hand someone to a foreign intelligence agency in the full knowledge they would be tortured, provide questions, stay out of the room themselves, but get the answers and in some cases even interview the victim when they had been "softened up" (for a graphic example see the case of Abu Zubaydah). And in the end, NZDF - who were aware of the torture - were given Miraj’s "confession".

Its unclear how much of this was put before the inquiry. For obvious reasons, they didn't interview Miraj, and so relied on NZDF accounts of what they did to him and what they knew (some of which are damning enough). But if it turns out that NZDF misled the inquiry about this, then heads should roll. but that's the least of it. Because pretty obviously, providing the questions for a torture session (and being given the answers) is conspiracy or procuring acts of torture, which a crime under New Zealand and international law. Those involved should be prosecuted. And if the New Zealand government refuses, Then they should join the NZDF and SIS in the dock in The Hague.