Professor Dapo Akande has been appointed international law adviser to a public inquiry established by the New Zealand Government. The inquiry is examining the conduct of New Zealand Defence Forces (NZDF) during the conflict in Afghanistan, and in particular, the actions of the New Zealand SAS during a particular operation (Operation Burnham) carried out in 2010. The Inquiry was established because of the publication in 2017 of the book Hit & Run by two journalists, which contain a number of serious allegations against personnel of the NZDF. The Inquiry aims to establish the facts in connection with those allegations, to examine the treatment by NZDF of reports of civilian casualties following the operation, and to assess the conduct of NZDF forces. The Inquiry, which is being conducted by Sir Terence Arnold QC (former judge of the New Zealand Supreme Court) and Sir Geoffrey Palmer QC (former New Zealand Prime Minister) will report back to the New Zealand Attorney-General by 31 December 2019.
Professor Akande provided a written opinion to the Inquiry on the international legal principles and rules that govern predetermined and offensive use of force against identified individuals in the context of non-international armed conflicts. He also gave his views in a Public Hearing held in Wellington, NZ this summer. His written opinion specifically references the Joint Prioritised Effects List, a list of individuals that the coalition forces in Afghanistan were authorised to capture or to target with lethal force, and deals with the legality of so called ‘targeted killing’ in the context of the conflict in Afghanistan.