A justified operation, no organised cover-up, but serious failures in senior defence personnel’s denial and misrepresentation, and serious failures by the intelligence agencies in handing over a suspect to torture. The Inquiry called for a review of Defence administration, an Inspector-General of Defence, a Defence Force order on dealing with allegations of civilian casualties, and an “effective detention policy.”
The issue was about NZDF denial of civilian casualties in Operation Burnham, in particular the killing of a female child. Some media reports have it that this killing was “justified,” although the report does not say this exactly, rather saying that “TF81 personnel had a proper basis for clearing the engagement in which the girl was most likely killed.” Shoot first, and cover up the consequences later is probably fair comment on what happened.
Attorney-General David Parker commissioned the report and considers that Hit and Run authors Nicky Hager and John Stephenson have performed a valuable public service. He also stated that the Government will accept the recommendations of the Inquiry.
NZDF will have some serious work to do to improve their performance.