Pressure mounts on Government for Hit and Run inquiry

Fatima, the three-year-old girl alleged killed in a raid on her village conducted by the NZ Defence Force.
Fatima, the three-year-old girl alleged killed in a raid on her village conducted by the NZ Defence Force. Photo credit: Supplied

Pressure is mounting on the Government to investigate the Defence Force over alleged civilian deaths and injuries in an attack on an Afghan village.

Four-thousand people have signed a petition calling for a full and independent inquiry into Operation Burnham, which it's alleged killed six civilians, including a three-year-old girl. More than a dozen others were allegedly wounded in the night-time attack on the village, as detailed in Jon Stephenson and Nicky Hager's investigative work Hit and Run.

The petition also calls for the inquiry to look into the alleged beating of a detainee, and his transfer to authorities known to torture detainees.

Delegation spokesperson Dr Carl Bradley says the Government must follow through on its pre-election commitment to hold an inquiry.

"We suspect that the Government is under great pressure from the Defence Force not to have an inquiry at all," he explained.

"But if we want a Defence Force with integrity, there needs to be a full, open and independent inquiry when things go wrong."

In April 2017, then-Labour leader Andrew Little said there "must be" an independent inquiry. 

"The accounts depicted by the Defence Force and the writers of Hit and Run present two very different viewpoints. Somewhere in the middle is the truth, and for public confidence in the integrity of the investigation and the actions of our troops we must have an independent inquiry," Mr Little said in a press release at the time.

Attorney-General David Parker is due to make a decision about the inquiry within the next few weeks.

The delegation calls for an inquiry that will:

1. Ensure the defence force cannot use its control of government information to skew the process

2. Ensure the inquiry has the necessary status and capacity

3. Have comprehensive terms of reference

4. Have broad terms of reference

5. Allow confidential evidence to avoid the Defence Force being able to control who can give evidence 

6. Ensure the public can participate in the inquiry