Questions over SAS handing over of prisoners

Questions have been raised about whether New Zealand's SAS may have handed over prisoners to an Afghan unit that is believed to use torture.

The British military has been banned from handing prisoners to the Afghan National Directorate of Security as it is so notorious for torture.

The Government has said the SAS worked with Afghanistan's Crisis Response Unit in Kabul, but was not directly responsible for any prisoners captured by the unit because it was not the head of the unit.

Prime Minister John Key said the SAS were not involved in torture of prisoners in Afghanistan.

If New Zealand troops detained someone there were clear written protocols about how that was done and those protocols honoured the Geneva Convention, he said.

The Geneva Convention sets out the standards for the humanitarian treatment of prisoners of war.

Mr Key said when New Zealand troops handed over someone they had detained they made sure that person would not be tortured later on.

Where the New Zealand SAS worked alongside the unit in Kabul it was not the detaining force, Mr Key told NewstalkZB.

"In that instance, it's not our responsibility when it comes to those people that are detained."

However, the SAS recorded the name of every person detained by the unit and those names were freely available to international agencies, he said.

Defence Minister Wayne Mapp said the SAS worked with the unit to capture insurgents.

"It's likely some are [transferred to the Afghan National Directorate of Security], yes," he told the Sunday Star-Times.

He was understood to be looking into the situation.

Green Party MP Keith Locke said the New Zealand Defence Force had to share responsibility for what happened to insurgents it captured.

He supported the withdrawal of the SAS from Afghanistan.

"We don't want New Zealand's good name muddied by links for the torture of prisoners, which is reputed to include beatings, electric shock treatment, and sleep, food and water deprivation."

NZPA