The independent organisation New Zealand Alternative has published a report examining how the NZDF deals with allegations of civilian deaths and injuries. The report recommends that:

  • the NZDF should establish a Civilian Harm Prevention Team; and

  • the Attorney-General should establish standard operating procedures for investigating allegations of civilian harm.

The report is released against the background of the ongoing public inquiry into Operation Burnham, in which NZDF SAS troops are alleged to have killed and injured civilians during a night raid in August 2010.

The report aims to build support for stronger processes that will prevent civilians being harmed by the New Zealand military. It emphasises the importance of preventing civilian harm; sheds light on the deficiencies in NZDF processes and the public inquiry process and presents recommendations to address these deficiencies.

Statement by Thomas Nash, Co-Director, New Zealand Alternative

“We need to acknowledge the harm to civilians caused by Operation Burnham and prevent something like this from happening ever again.

If the government decides to send troops into conflict, it takes on moral, legal and strategic obligations to prevent harm to civilians.

The response to the civilian deaths and injuries during Operation Burnham in 2010 was inadequate and exposed flaws in the government’s practices.

The public inquiry into Operation Burnham is the first of its kind and offers an opportunity to critically assess existing practices and to improve them.

We should do everything in our power to avoid the chance that civilians are killed or injured by the NZDF. That’s why stronger standards need to be put in place.

We need to talk openly about the military action we are engaged in and be honest about its risks.

The US-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have had a devastating impact on civilians, on the prosperity of communities in those countries and on the stability of the Middle East more broadly. 

New Zealand’s involvement in these conflicts deserves scrutiny as part of a wider consideration of our role in the world and how we seek to promote peace and security.”

Download the full briefing paper


Thomas Nash 0291231536

Thomas Nash