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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Senior Canada diplomat accuses military of complicity in torture of Afghans
Megan McKee at 10:22 AM ET

[JURIST] A former senior Canadian diplomat alleged Wednesday that the Canadian military was complicit in the torture of Afghans by their own government, during testimony before the House of Commons Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan [official website]. Richard Colvin, who represented the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) [official website] in Kandahar from 2006-2007 and is currently the deputy head of intelligence at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, said that captives transferred from a Canadian military base in Kandahar to Afghan authorities were subsequently tortured [Canwest News report]. Colvin accused both the government and military of ignoring and even suppressing reports of torture by Afghan authorities, citing upwards of twelve memos [Reuters report] that he sent to top officials beginning in early 2006. The minority Conservative Party [party website] government maintains that captives were not transferred if there was a threat of torture, and questions [CBC report] the validity of Colvin's information.

Amnesty International Canada and the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association [advocacy websites] filed complaints [JURIST report] in 2007 against the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal [official website], alleging complicity in torture by Canadian personnel serving in Afghanistan. Amnesty accused Canada of violating the Charter of Rights and Freedoms [text] by turning Afghan detainees over to Afghan authorities without any protection against later cruel and unusual punishment. In March 2008, the Canadian Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC) [official website] decided to hold public hearings to investigate the country's detainee transfer process in Afghanistan despite a move from the Canadian Department of Justice to block the inquiry [JURIST reports]. In September, the Canadian Federal Court ruled [JURIST report] that the MPCC's authority was limited to the investigation of military police, and it did not have the authority "to investigate government policy and to inquire as to the state of knowledge of the Government of Canada at large."

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