Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Harper's torture problem getting worse

So we find a very interesting elaboration on the torture story today in the Globe: "What Ottawa doesn't want you to know."
The Harper government knew from its own officials that prisoners held by Afghan security forces faced the possibility of torture, abuse and extrajudicial killing, The Globe and Mail has learned.

But the government has eradicated every single reference to torture and abuse in prison from a heavily blacked-out version of a report prepared by Canadian diplomats in Kabul and released under an access to information request.
That's the Harper crew for you, control of information par for the course. The Globe was able to obtain a full clean copy of the report, however, and could compare and derive what the blacked out parts read. One example:
There was no explanation for blacking out observations such as "military, intelligence and police forces have been accused of involvement in arbitrary arrest, kidnapping extortion, torture and extrajudicial killing."
The point here? The government knew of the potential for detainees to be tortured by the Afghans if they were turned over. And they did it anyway. International reports, cited in the Globe report, have also highlighted this problem in Afghanistan. Our leaders have been turning a blind eye to the situation and now they've been called on it. Harper and O'Connor's futile promises to look into these allegations this week become even more stunning when one reads this article.

Think Mini Bush might actually consider that he's in the wrong now? Nah, I won't be holding my breath. What is it with these right wing politicians who can't admit a mistake anyway?

We should not be condoning torture and we should not be handing over prisoners to any government who will then proceed to torture. Harper is buckpassing by throwing responsibility onto others - the Afghan Human Rights entity - and suggesting that he doesn't take the word of Afghan prisoners that they're being tortured. I wonder if he'll consider the allegations to be more serious now that everyone knows that Harper's government was told the Afghans were torturing.

By the way...this blacked out report appears to have come to the Globe via an academic who obtained the report after a personal complaint to the Information Commissioner. A Globe journalist who requested the same item was told it did not exist.

Wishful thinking on the part of Mini Bush's media crew or just an out and out lie?