PM rules out inquiry into SAS torture reports

ANDREA VANCE AND KATE CHAPMAN
Last updated 12:23 25/04/2011

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Prime Minister John Key has ruled out an inquiry into reports the SAS handed over detainees who were later tortured.

The Green Party has demanded an investigation after reports terror suspects were tortured in 2002 and 2010 after being handed over to Afghan and US forces, but  Mr Key said he ''hadn't seen any evidence to support the need for an inquiry''.

He would have some discussions with Defence Minister Wayne Mapp when he returned to New Zealand next week.

''I see nothing that has indicated to me that New Zealanders have done anything other than what we would expect them to do and to have acted in line with both the Geneva Convention and the signed protocols that we have as part of the operation in Afghanistan.''

He added: ''I'm totally confident New Zealanders have acted in line with that convention. When people have been under New Zealand care they've be treated properly.''

Metro magazine published details of two incidents from 2010 where detainees were handed over to Afghan forces and another in 2002 where around 55 people were handed over to United States troops. According to the article many of those handed over were subsequently tortured.

Reports of detainees being tortured after being handed over to the Afghan National Directorate of Security in Kabul surfaced last year.

Yesterday, Defence Minister Wayne Mapp defended the actions of SAS soldiers operating in Afghanistan, saying they acted properly when it came to the handing over detainees.

He told TVNZ's Q+A that there had been a lot of work done to ensure the rule of law was followed when NATO-ISAF troops were handling detainees.

''I can assure you that basically we do everything properly. You would expect that of New Zealand soldiers. They expect that of themselves.''

In relation to the 2002 incident, Dr Mapp said New Zealand forces lodged complaints at the time over what had occurred. The troops conducted themselves with the professionalism expected of them, and understood their responsibilities and the impact on New Zealand's reputation.

''I have taken a special interest in this, and, yes, I am satisfied, and I know that NATO-ISAF has taken a much closer approach on this and worked, actually, in building the capacity of the Afghan government to, frankly, obey the principles and norms of international law,'' Dr Mapp said.

Green Party MP Keith Locke called for an independent inquiry into the SAS's handing over of detainees who have later been tortured.

Dr Mapp could no longer accept Defence Force assurances on the matter as they had ''swept the matter under the carpet for the last nine years''.

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''Only an independent inquiry will get the truth out and provide the answers that the public deserve about our activities in Afghanistan.''

- Stuff

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