Contrary to an inaccurate Amnesty International press release and subsequent media reports, the New Zealand government has not been ordered to investigate the allegations made in the book Hit & Run, Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee says.
The Government has received a list of issues from the United Nations Committee Against Torture as part of a routine reporting process.
“We’re one of 161 parties to the Convention Against Torture to receive such a list and we have two years to respond to this seventh periodic report,” Mr Brownlee says.
“Unfortunately, the issue raised by the Committee is based on factual inaccuracies. The allegations made by Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson were disproven and the Chief of Defence Force held a press conference detailing the New Zealand Defence Force raid in Afghanistan in 2010.
“I would also like to point out that the findings of the International Security Assistance Force investigation undertaken in 2010 after Operation Burnham were available to the United Nations Assistance Mission – Afghanistan at the time.
“We will be responding to the committee’s request for information but I want to be clear that this is not a criticism of New Zealand, or its Defence Force.
“The committee will make its conclusion about the 33 issues raised after we’ve responded, as required, by 2019,” Mr Brownlee says.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee says it’s a shame the Green Party has chosen to play petty politics over today’s motion in Parliament to mark the 30th anniversary of New Zealand’s nuclear free legislation.
“The Green Party’s insistence that the motion include reference to ongoing United Nations negotiations for a Convention on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is unfortunate,” Mr Brownlee says.
“The Convention is a matter for another day but today was about marking an important anniversary for New Zealand.
“I’m disappointed by the Green Party’s voting against this perfectly reasonable and respectful motion and their childish behaviour in the House today,” Mr Brownlee says.
The text of the motion:
I move that this House marks the thirtieth anniversary of our nuclear free legislation – the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act, which entered into force on 8 June 1987.
The opposition to nuclear weapons symbolised by this legislation has become a defining aspect of this country’s international reputation and New Zealand continues to work for a nuclear weapon-free world.
Whilst recognising the efforts of some countries to reduce their arsenals of nuclear weapons, this House also recognises the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and encourages all States yet to join the Treaty to do so.
The concerns that New Zealand and many other countries have recently expressed over North Korea’s nuclear programme highlight the importance of working to achieve the goal of a world without nuclear weapons.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee today named diplomat Chris Langley as New Zealand’s next Ambassador to Brazil.
“Brazil is a global player on issues of importance to New Zealand, and we work closely together on a range of international issues including global trade, international security and climate change,” Mr Brownlee says.
“New Zealand has a strong and growing economic relationship with Brazil, which is the seventh largest economy in the world. We have significant investments in Brazil’s dairy sector and are deepening links through education and tourism.
“We recently restarted a trade dialogue with Mercosur – the Southern Common Market, which includes Brazil – aimed at developing trade ties with those countries.
“Brazilians and New Zealanders also share a passion for sport, as demonstrated during last year’s Rio Olympics,” Mr Brownlee says.
Mr Langley has had previous postings in Chile and Indonesia, and took a two-year sabbatical from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to work in the private sector in Sydney.
He recently served as trade private secretary to the Minister of Trade and is currently working in the Trade Negotiations Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has today welcomed the appointment of a New Zealander to an important role at the United Nations.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has confirmed the appointment of New Zealander Jan Beagle to the position of Under-Secretary-General for Management for a term of four years.
“This is a significant role with the United Nations given the new Secretary-General‘s reform priorities. It is one of a handful of very senior roles within the UN Secretariat,” Mr Brownlee says.
“As the Secretary-General noted in making the appointment, Ms Beagle has had a distinguished career in the United Nations serving in a number of high-level roles in New York and Geneva, most recently as the Deputy Executive Director of UN AIDS.
“This appointment is a tribute to Ms Beagle’s abilities and her excellent performance in the United Nations.
“I’d like to congratulate Ms Beagle on her new role and we look forward to working with her,” Mr Brownlee says.
New Zealand will provide $750,000 to support landmine clearance in Afghanistan, Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced.
“New Zealand has a long history of involvement in Afghanistan, including support for renewable energy and agriculture projects, as well as the deployment of the New Zealand Defence Force to Bamyan,” Mr Brownlee says.
“The funding, announced today, will see about $750,000 given to the United Nations Mine Action Service.
“The programme helps to support Afghanistan’s innocent citizens who strive towards peaceful lives.
“Long-term sustainable development in Afghanistan will depend on stabilising the security situation. This is why it’s important to contribute to landmine clearance and mine risk education.
“Through our NZDF and our development assistance, New Zealand has made a major investment in the future of Afghanistan.
“We will continue to be part of international efforts to stabilise the country and support its people as the security situation improves,” Mr Brownlee says.
Notes to editors:
New Zealand has a long history of support to demining internationally, through our Aid Programme, the United Nations Mine Action Service and the New Zealand Defence Force.
Through the Aid Programme, we are currently spending around $16.5 million supporting demining activities in Laos, Colombia and the occupied Palestinian Territories.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has today handed over four amphibious boats to the Fiji National Disaster Management Office at a ceremony in Suva.
“New Zealand and Fiji have agreed to trial the Sealegs boats in emergency response situations and natural disasters,” Mr Brownlee says.
“Amphibious boats do not require infrastructure to launch, which means the emergency responders will be able to get the vessels in the water more quickly and operate more effectively in flooded urban environments.
“Fiji’s emergency responders will use the vessels to reach stranded people, as well as to get support and supplies to people who have been cut off by flooding or other natural disasters.
“The $1.2 million, two-year trial will see four vessels provided to the Fiji authorities along with other emergency equipment, and a training and maintenance programme.
“The Sealegs boats will complement Fiji’s excellent emergency response systems and boost their disaster response capacity.
“This trial is a partnership between the governments of New Zealand and Fiji, to test innovative technology that will ultimately help save lives and deliver humanitarian assistance when disaster strikes,” Mr Brownlee says.
Mr Brownlee is currently in Suva for his first official visit to Fiji as Foreign Affairs Minister.
Foreign Affairs Minister Gerry Brownlee has welcomed the announcement that United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will visit New Zealand next week.
Secretary Tillerson will meet with Prime Minister Bill English and Minister Brownlee in Wellington on June 6.
“New Zealand and the United States enjoy a long-standing friendship,” Mr Brownlee says.
“We share a deep interest in maintaining peace, prosperity and stability in the Asia Pacific region and we have worked closely together to counter terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan. The United States is our third-largest individual trading partner.
“We welcome Secretary Tillerson’s visit as a chance to strengthen the close relationship between New Zealand and the United States, to discuss some of the world’s most pressing issues, and to further promote our economic ties,” Mr Brownlee says.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee will travel to Fiji today to meet with Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama.
“I last visited Fiji in December 2014 as Defence Minister and am looking forward to discussing a range of matters with Prime Minister Bainimarama,” Mr Brownlee says.
“These will include regional issues, our Defence and disaster risk reduction ties, and New Zealand’s aid and development programme.
“The Royal New Zealand Navy has recently deployed inshore patrol vessel HMNZS Hawea to Fiji for six months to help bolster the nation’s maritime security and to protect its fisheries.
"Fiji is an island nation, like New Zealand, and therefore protecting our maritime borders is extremely important.
“New Zealand’s response to Cyclone Winston in 2016 demonstrated the deep friendship between the people of our two countries. Responding to natural disasters is an area where I believe we could more closely collaborate.
“Fiji is New Zealand’s largest trading partner in the Pacific and a growing number of New Zealand businesses are active there.
“While in Suva I will also meet with Pacific Islands Forum Secretary-General Dame Meg Taylor,” Mr Brownlee says.
New Zealand will provide $200,000 to support emergency relief efforts in Sri Lanka following floods and landslides caused by torrential rains, Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced.
“Floods and landslides in Sri Lanka have affected almost half a million people, with a death toll of more than 150 and many people missing,” Mr Brownlee says.
“New Zealand is committed to supporting the people of Sri Lanka at this difficult time.
“Our contribution to the relief effort will support the Sri Lankan Red Cross to provide immediate support to those in need.
“We will continue to monitor the situation in Sri Lanka. The weather forecast is for further heavy monsoon rains in the coming days,” Mr Brownlee says.
New funding of $9.6 million in Budget 2017 will see New Zealand’s presence in Antarctica continue while cementing the Government’s commitment to the continent, Foreign Affairs Minister Gerry Brownlee says.
$2.1 million operating funding over the next two years and $4 million capital will be allocated to the future redevelopment of Scott Base.
This will allow for the development of a building design and implementation plan to redevelop Scott Base when the present facility reaches the end of its life – expected to be within 10 years.
“Scott Base provides a permanent presence in Antarctica that underpins New Zealand’s strategic interests,” Mr Brownlee says.
“A revamped Scott Base will allow us to continue providing safe and effective logistics and also support the high-quality Antarctic science relevant to New Zealand’s policy and interests.
“By maintaining a credible presence in Antarctica, our ability to safeguard the environment will continue, as will our influence in the Antarctic Treaty System.”
$3.5 million of operating funding over the next four years will be provided towards office accommodation at the National Antarctic Programmes in Christchurch.
“The Christchurch-based programmes are part of our contribution to a joint logistics pool for Antarctic research,” Mr Brownlee says.
“The United States, Italian and Korean Antarctic Programme activities greatly benefit Christchurch and New Zealand.”
“Their continued economic and scientific commitments to the city are significant and it is important that Christchurch remains an attractive and viable centre for their operations.”