Monday, June 25, 2007

A triumph of mediocrity

The military investigation into the treatment of Afghan detainees is limited to an analysis of their treatment only while in Canadian custody. The military is not concerning itself with what happens after the handover. That's the message in this report, "Detainees' claims won't be fully checked," in the Globe today. For while the military is permitted under their fantabulously improved agreement, as so noted by lawyer Van Loan in the report, to access prisons now to inspect for mistreatment...the military probe won't go there. Won't check to see whether it's working or not. So what we're getting is a report on Canadian treatment of detainees. Half the story. And not the problematic half.

We can have the best military treatment of detainees going, but if we then hand them over to the Afghans where the treatment is suspect and in violation of our international treaty obligations...then we're just creating a recipe for future potential abuses. This report might be useful for clarifying unresolved issues for Canadian troops in the field but it's failing to address the elephant in the room. And perhaps more importantly, our military is sending a weak signal to the Afghan government that we're "hands-off" in terms of exercising these newly gained oversight rights.