Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Afghan detainee problem back in the news

Despite the agreement reached in the spring over an improved monitoring ability for Canadians to assess the treatment by Afghans of detainees handed over, it's turning out to be just not good enough to uphold our obligations under international law. Calling Maxime:
Turning Afghan detainees over to known torturers breaks international law, and Canada, along with other NATO countries should impose an immediate halt to transfers, Amnesty International said Tuesday.
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Canada and other nations "cannot claim to be treating detainees humanely while knowingly handing them over to torturers ... any more than it can knowingly 'release' detainees in a minefield and claim that their safety is no longer its responsibility. In both cases international law obliges states to transfer or release detainees to a safe environment," Amnesty says.
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"Monitoring is a technique to detect torture only after it happens, and cannot substitute for prior precautions that prevent torture from happening in the first place," Amnesty says.

"As such, monitoring cannot meet Canada's absolute legal obligation to prevent torture," the report adds.
We should be distinguishing ourselves from the Americans who have contorted themselves into existential debates over the meaning of waterboarding of late. And listening to the voices of conscience in our midst in these dark times when black site prisons are operating around the world, including in Afghanistan. Canada is back? Well, we should start acting like it rather than assuming a follow the immoral leader position on a matter of human rights that we are smack dab in the middle of in Afghanistan.