Legal opinion on complicity in torture

Scott made this Official Information request to Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Response to this request is delayed. By law, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade should normally have responded promptly and by (details and exceptions)

From: Scott

Dear Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade,

I would like to make a request for information relating to the legal opinion prepared for the government by MFAT concerning New Zealand’s obligations around complicity in torture and other internationally wrongful acts. I understand the opinion was issued around late 2020.

For clarity, the opinion I am referring to has its origin in response to, and was referenced in, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security’s report into New Zealand involvement in the CIA’s enhanced interrogation programme, released July 2019 and accessible here:

https://igis.govt.nz/assets/Inquiries/CI...

“…MFAT is leading, working with Crown Law, NZDF and the intelligence and security agencies to formalise a statement of New Zealand’s obligations in relation to the law of torture and complicity in torture” (page 80).

It is also referenced in documents released to me by DPMC, which can be accessed here:

https://fyi.org.nz/request/18903/respons...

On page 6:

“…MFAT is leading a process to clarify New Zealand’s obligation, at international law, not to be complicit in the internationally wrongful acts of foreign partners.” (From a briefing dated September 2019).

Page 17:

“We are also engaging with MFAT’s ongoing development of legal advice to agencies regarding aid and assistance at international law… “(From a briefing dated January 2020).

And page 65:

“…MFAT has since issued a legal opinion to clarify New Zealand’s obligation, at international law, not to be complicit in an internationally wrongful act of another State.” (From a briefing dated December 2020).

On the topic of this opinion, I would like to make the following requests for information:

ONE: I would like to request a copy of the opinion.

TWO: I would like to request copies of all briefings, reports, advice, memos or aides memoire submitted to the Minister for Foreign Affairs or any other minister, including excerpts from Foreign Affairs Weekly Reports, that reference the opinion and its development.

Yours faithfully,

Scott

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From: ENQUIRIES
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

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From: ESD
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

[UNCLASSIFIED]

Kia ora Scott

 

Thank you for your OIA request received on 20 July 2022 for:

 

ONE: I would like to request a copy of the opinion.

 

TWO: I would like to request copies of all briefings, reports, advice,
memos or aides memoire submitted to the Minister for Foreign Affairs or
any other minister, including excerpts from Foreign Affairs Weekly
Reports, that reference the opinion and its development.

 

This email confirms receipt of your request and advises that we will
respond to it as soon as reasonably practicable, and in terms of the
timeframes and requirements of the OIA.

 

Please also be advised that the organisational impacts of implementing the
COVID-19 Protection Framework, together with the Ministry’s leadership of
the Government's response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, mean that we
may have reduced capacity to process OIA requests. We will do our best to
make decisions on your OIA request as soon as practicably possible, and to
keep you informed of progress if there are likely to be delays.

 

For your information, the Chief Ombudsman has published updated guidance
on OIA requests during this time:

·       [1]Chief Ombudsman's statement on official information response
times during implementation of the COVID-19 Protection Framework

·       [2]FAQs about official information requests during COVID-19

 

Please note that our response letter to you (with your personal details
redacted), and any enclosed documents, may be published on the Ministry’s
website.

 

Ngā mihi

 

Executive Services Division
New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade | Manatū Aorere

 

 

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From: ESD
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade


Attachment image001.png
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[UNCLASSIFIED]

 

Tçnâ koe Scott

 

We refer to your official information request of 20 July 2022:

 

‘I would like to make a request for information relating to the legal
opinion prepared for the government by MFAT concerning New Zealand’s
obligations around complicity in torture and other internationally
wrongful acts. I understand the opinion was issued around late 2020.

 

For clarity, the opinion I am referring to has its origin in response to,
and was referenced in, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and
Security’s report into New Zealand involvement in the CIA’s enhanced
interrogation programme, released July 2019 and accessible here:

 

[1]https://igis.govt.nz/assets/Inquiries/CI...

 

“…MFAT is leading, working with Crown Law, NZDF and the intelligence and
security agencies to formalise a statement of New Zealand’s obligations in
relation to the law of torture and complicity in torture” (page 80).

 

It is also referenced in documents released to me by DPMC, which can be
accessed here:

 

[2]https://fyi.org.nz/request/18903/respons...

 

On page 6:

 

“…MFAT is leading a process to clarify New Zealand’s obligation, at
international law, not to be complicit in the internationally wrongful
acts of foreign partners.” (From a briefing dated September 2019).

 

Page 17:

 

“We are also engaging with MFAT’s ongoing development of legal advice to
agencies regarding aid and assistance at international law… “(From a
briefing dated January 2020).

 

And page 65:

 

“…MFAT has since issued a legal opinion to clarify New Zealand’s
obligation, at international law, not to be complicit in an
internationally wrongful act of another State.”  (From a briefing dated
December 2020).

 

On the topic of this opinion, I would like to make the following requests
for information:

 

ONE: I would like to request a copy of the opinion.

 

TWO: I would like to request copies of all briefings, reports, advice,
memos or aides memoire submitted to the Minister for Foreign Affairs or
any other minister, including excerpts from Foreign Affairs Weekly
Reports, that reference the opinion and its development.’

 

We have transferred part of your request to the Government Communications
Security Bureau.

 

The information in your question two (below) is believed to be held by the
Government Communications Security Bureau (section 14(b)(i) of the OIA
refers).  

 

I would like to request copies of all briefings, reports, advice, memos or
aides memoire submitted to the Minister for Foreign Affairs or any other
minister, including excerpts from Foreign Affairs Weekly Reports, that
reference the opinion and its development.’

 

In these circumstances, we are required by section 14 of the Official
Information Act to transfer your request.

 

You will hear further from the Government Communications Security Bureau
concerning this part of your request.

 

Ngâ mihi

 

Executive Services Division
New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade | Manatû Aorere

-------------------------------------------------

195 Lambton Quay, Private Bag 18901, Wellington 5045, New Zealand

[3]www.mfat.govt.nz | [4]www.safetravel.govt.nz

[5]cid:image001.png@01D762BA.46DA26E0

 

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From: ESD
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade


Attachment image001.png
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Attachment OIA 28192 Scott Response SIGNED.pdf
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[UNCLASSIFIED]

Tēnā koe Scott

 

Please see attached our response to you OIA request of 20 July 2022.

 

Ngā mihi

 

Executive Services Division
New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade | Manatū Aorere

-------------------------------------------------

195 Lambton Quay, Private Bag 18901, Wellington 5045, New Zealand

[1]www.mfat.govt.nz | [2]www.safetravel.govt.nz

[3]cid:image001.png@01D762BA.46DA26E0

 

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