Canadian officials confirmed Wednesday they had evidence a Taliban detainee, visited in an Afghan prison this month, showed signs of physical abuse, the seventh such allegation made by detainees since Canada began systematically visiting Afghan prisoners in May.
Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier made the disclosure in the House of Commons yesterday, hours before government officials made public hundreds of pages of previously classified documents on the treatment of detainees.
The government was forced to release the documents after a federal judge ordered it to disclose them as part of a suit brought by Amnesty International Canada and the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association."Forced to release" the documents...isn't that always the way with these guys.
The revelations contained in the documents released yesterday show Canada is still "handing detainees over to known torturers," said Amir Attaran, the University of Ottawa law professor whose searches through military documents first uncovered the allegations of torture of Canadian-held detainees in Afghanistan.The Harper Conservatives are unwilling, indeed, to accept their responsibilities in the situation and stop the transfer of detainees to Afghans who are torturing. It's a violation of international law that's going on. You could sense the sheepishness and embarrassment in the demeanour of Maxime Bernier in the House of Commons yesterday. Imagine as a lawyer having to stand up in front of the country and essentially shrug your shoulders over this stuff.
"Canada is following the American lead; this is the same as the American program of rendering detainees," he said yesterday in a telephone interview.
Mr. Attaran said the Harper government seems unwilling to accept the reality that it is turning prisoners over to an Afghan "government where there is no justice system."
Repeat this, Maxime: Canada does not torture. We do not condone torture of anyone, regardless of their ilk. If we permit torture, our guys and gals get tortured. We're better than that. Further, monitoring does not preclude torture. In fact, it's irrelevant if the torture continues. And we will ensure that Afghan detainees in Canadian custody will not be tortured.
Now let's all watch Maxime and the Harper government and see whether they care to fix the problem that to date they have been willing to let fester and sully Canada's reputation.