The head of Amnesty International has called on New Zealand to stop handing over detainees in Afghanistan to local Afghan forces after a leaked United Nations report unveiled torture and ill-treatment in some Afghan detention centres.
Salil Shetty, who is in New Zealand for two days as part of commemorating Amnesty's 50th birthday this year, said he would raise the issue when he meets Associate Foreign Minister Tim Groser tomorrow.
"Amnesty has been raising this issue for a long time, calling on Nato forces not to hand over detainees to Afghan security forces," he said.
"We have enough evidence of systematic torture and ill-treatment in Afghani prisons, confirmed by a leaked United Nations report. Nato has decided to suspend handing over detainees. The question is what is New Zealand going to do about it."
Journalist Jon Stephenson quoted a senior Afghan special forces officer in April as saying New Zealand SAS soldiers were "very involved" in taking prisoners held by both American and Afghan forces.
Defence Minister Wayne Mapp told Green MP Keith Locke in May that the SAS had captured only one detainee since September 2009. He said that person was transferred to US custody and was being held in "a secure, clean and safe facility which is professionally operated".
But Mr Mapp also said last year that he had ordered a report into allegations of mistreatment of detainees by Afghan forces. A spokesman said last night that the report would be published after the official release of the United Nations report "in the near future".
Mr Shetty, an Indian national who took over as Amnesty secretary-general last year, also urged New Zealand not to follow Australia's lead in refusing to accept people fleeing from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and other Asian countries and seeking refugee status here.
Prime Minister John Key has described such people as "trying to jump the queue" ahead of the 750 people selected by the United Nations to fill New Zealand's annual refugee quota.
"You can't conflate the two issues," Mr Shetty said.
"There are quotas in each country, 750 in New Zealand's case, although we are pushing for that to be increased to 1000. That is in no way connected to the asylum-seekers. So there is no queue-jumping.
"We'd like the Australians to follow the NZ example of how to treat refugees, not the other way around."
* Mr Shetty spoke at a public meeting in Auckland last night and speaks in Wellington at 1pm today on the ground floor of BP House, 20 Customhouse Quay.