Tuesday, April 24, 2007

See no evil

It looks like the Conservatives chose willful blindness as their preferred route in tracking prisoners taken in Afghanistan: "Paper trail on detainees no longer goes to defence minister's office."
A key paper trail that once tracked the handling of Taliban prisoners has been eliminated in the defence minister's office, raising questions about human-rights accountability.
O'Connor gets only "oral briefings." This has led to problems.
Last winter, O'Connor was forced to apologize to the Commons for misinforming members of Parliament about the role of the International Committee of the Red Cross in the monitoring of detainees.
Why is this deviation from the previous government's practice of receiving written reports in place?
The absence of a paper trail could provide a degree of deniability should a major human-rights abuse be carried out by Canadian troops or Afghans, who take charge of captured insurgents.
Amir Attaran, the University of Ottawa law professor who first raised questions of prisoner detention, said Monday it's clear the Canadian government is content to keep itself in the dark.

"It seems the responsible individuals in the Department of National Defence and the minister, Gordon O'Connor, didn't care to know. They didn't care to find out and they didn't care to make decisions on that basis," said Attaran.

"I find this profoundly sad. I would like to think of my country Canada as one that acts on human rights in a proactive way and doesn't wait for it to be published in the Globe and Mail."
A very sorry track record for the Conservatives is clearly taking shape.