| Ander Nieuws week 48 / nieuwe oorlog 2007 |
... and Tory falsehoods

The Globe and Mail
November 17, 2007
On torture in Afghanistan, the Canadian government has told many falsehoods. It sees, hears and knows nothing - even after its own diplomats and inspectors have written reams of reports. But some of those reports have now been made public, by court order. Thus, what the government knew, the public knows.
"Until now, we did not have the information that is being reported today in the papers," Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in the House of Commons on April 24, a day on which The Globe and Mail published allegations of torture and abuse made by prisoners turned over by Canadian soldiers to Afghan security officials. When challenged by the opposition to ensure the prisoners were being monitored, Mr. Harper suggested the allegations were fabricated. "I think what is disgraceful is to simply accept the allegations of some Taliban suspects at face value. That is not appropriate for a Canadian member of Parliament."
Contrary to what Mr. Harper told the House, the government already had firsthand evidence from Canadian officials of the terrible conditions in Afghan jails. And Canadian diplomats had sent home reports of widespread allegations of torture and abuse.
Those allegations were so routine that in February, according to newly released documents with many portions blacked out, Linda Garwood-Filbert, the head of a Corrections Canada team inspecting Afghanistan's jails, asked for a pair of desert camel boots to ensure her staff's own safety in the horrid jails. "On a Health and Safety level we will be walking through blood and fecal matter when either on patrol or in the prison and should not be wearing our personal footwear as it will track into our personal quarters."
On April 26, Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day told the House that his department's inspectors saw nothing in their inspections that suggested torture or abuse. "In all the visits our Correctional Service officers have done, they have not actually seen the evidence."
Documents show that, on April 23, Canadian diplomats reported that the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission could not monitor the prisoners because the National Directorate of Security wasn't letting the commission inside the prisons. On April 24, then-defence-minister Gordon O'Connor told the House that the commission "is able to monitor all the prisoners." On June 1, diplomats said it was difficult to monitor the prisoners because the Afghan authorities kept poor records of them. On June 6, then-foreign-minister Peter MacKay said the Afghans "clearly understand the expectations" of proper treatment for the transferred prisoners.
Canada has an obligation under international law not to turn prisoners over to be tortured, but it cannot be trusted to tell people the truth about the situation facing the prisoners it hands to Afghan authorities.
Copyright (c) 2007 Bell Globemedia Interactive Inc.
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| Ander Nieuws week 48 / nieuwe oorlog 2007 |