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Friday, March 05, 2010

Canada judge to review Afghan detainee documents before release to Parliament
Zach Zagger at 1:14 PM ET

[JURIST] Canadian Justice Minister Rob Nicholson [official profile] announced Friday that a former Supreme Court of Canada [official website] judge will review documents detailing Canadian forces' treatment of Afghan detainees before the documents are released to Parliament [official website]. Nicholson appointed former judge Frank Iacobucci [UToronto backgrounder] to review the documents [CBC report] and report back to Nicholson, who will determine the conditions of disclosure. The announcement comes amidst mounting pressure from Parliament for the release of the documents. In December, Parliament passed an order to compel [JURIST report] Prime Minister Stephen Harper to release the documents, and earlier this week, some MPs considered a vote to sanction [Toronto Sun report] high-level cabinet ministers for refusing to disclose them. MP Derek Lee (Liberal) [official website] has criticized [press release] the refusal to disclose the documents, which may contain evidence that detainees were tortured.

In December, the Canadian government released [JURIST report] more than 40 redacted e-mails [text, PDF] sent by Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin to then-foreign minister Peter MacKay [official profile] raising concerns about the torture of transferred detainees. The release of the e-mails came after Colvin testified [JURIST report] before a Commons committee in November that all enemy combatants captured in 2006 and 2007 by Canadian forces were likely tortured upon their transfer to Afghan authorities. Throughout the spring of 2006, Colvin relayed allegations made by the International Committee of the Red Cross [official website] that Afghan authorities were routinely torturing detainees, and that by refusing information requests and failing to provide timely notice of transfer to Afghan custody, the Canadian military was hindering efforts to track Afghan detainees and monitor their treatment.

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