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Decision about members of the Armed Forces related to Operations Burnham and Yamaha

The New Zealand Defence Force has completed a review into the conduct of members of the armed forces as reported on by the Government Inquiry into Operation Burnham and Related Matters.

01 June, 2021

“The report of the Inquiry was released last July and at the press conference I advised that a review would be undertaken to determine whether any further disciplinary or administrative action should be considered in respect of members of the armed forces,” said Chief of Defence Force Air Marshal Kevin Short.

Air Marshal Short has now made decisions about further disciplinary or administrative action.

“I have decided not to take any disciplinary action in relation to the finding of administrative failing by an individual member of the armed forces, as the Armed Forces Discipline Act 1971 requires matters to be investigated within three years of the alleged offending, and that timeframe has long since passed,” Air Marshal Short said.

“With regard to other possible action, such as a censure,  I have also decided not to take any further administrative action as the events are now over 10 years old and the individual has already faced significant admonishment through the Inquiry’s public hearings that were covered by the media, and the publication of the Inquiry report itself. I consider that there would be little benefit gained from pursuing such action,” Air Marshal Short said.

“With regard to the finding that, on balance, Qari Miraj was struck during Operation Yamaha, an NZDF Military Police investigation was undertaken some years ago and found insufficient evidence to proceed with any charges,” Air Marshal Short said.

“I have decided to not direct further investigation by NZDF Military Police into the allegation of assault. However, from a systemic perspective, I have undertaken to incorporate the factual scenario of Operation Yamaha into applicable NZDF training on detention,” Air Marshal Short said. 

“I have also issued Defence Force Order 35, New Zealand Defence Force Response to Civilian Harm, which clarifies the obligations of members of the NZDF with respect to reports of civilian harm. DFO 35 is available on the NZDF website.”

The development of the order was one of four recommendations the Inquiry made. The NZDF is continuing to work with other Government agencies to progress the other three recommendations related to an Inspector General of Defence, the Expert Review Group and detention policy. The NZDF is not the lead agency on those, but is assisting where required.