Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Harper responds to Afghan detainee monitoring question

Here's the video of that CBC report from last night on the 2009 memo circulated within the government, warning of continued peril in transferring prisoners to the Afghan NDS due to the risk of torture, as Canada continues to do. Conservative commentator Kory Teneycke was on CBC's Power & Politics earlier, needling CBC's Terry Milewski about the report so clearly, Kory would like you to see it.

Here's what Harper said in response today to news that his government knew of the torture risks but continued to transfer detainees:
"These reports continue to be things that have been said before, and our position is the same: Whenever there are specific allegations of abuse under the agreement, action is taken to investigate those," Harper told reporters at an event with Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty in Mississauga.

"There is a rigorous arrangement of monitoring and oversight in the new prisoner agreement, and it has continued to work effectively. As I say, if there are specific problems, they are investigated and appropriate action has been taken. That has been the case for over three years."
A diplomat who testified last week at the Afghan Special Commons Committee would disagree with Harper's statement about the rigour of the monitoring. So would this Afghan NDS guy, featured in the video above, who really doesn't like the inspection regime at all ("Unexpected and multiple inspection visits were unwelcome, he wrote, and infringed on Afghan sovereignty.") and has succeeded in getting the inspections to occur once a month with plenty of advance notice. How rigorous and effective do we think those are? On the other hand, a Brigadier General testified at that committee meeting last week that he was comfortable in transferring detainees while he was there in 2008-2009 (see first link).

We are left in a situation of continued transfers to known torturers with Canada following-up on specific allegations after the fact in a monitoring regime that is still suspect. Nobody expects the Afghans to be perfect, that's not the issue. Canada's obligations continue to be in question, despite the talking points about a hunky dory transfer arrangement.