Canadian Forces knew -

Canadian Forces knew

General says soldiers halted Afghan prison transfers over torture concerns. Meanwhile, MacKay keeps denying.


According to Gen. Walt Natynczyk, Canadian soldiers on more than one occasion refrained from handing over prisoners to Afghan authorities, fearing they might be tortured. The federal government has admitted it pre-empted prisoner transfers once in November 2007, but Natynczyk told an international security conference in Halifax over the weekend that wasn’t the only time. Natynczyk’s confirmation that Canadian troops were aware Afghans were being mistreated was bolstered by the release of a report prepared by the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission documenting nearly 400 incidents of torture in the country, 47 of which occurred in Kandahar, where Canadian troops are stationed. “Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment are common in the majority of law enforcement institutions,” the report’s authors wrote in April 2009, “and at least 98.5 per cent of interviewed victims have been tortured.” Still, it remains unclear how many torture victims were apprehended by Canadians. While initial reports suggested as many as 600 prisoners were transferred to Afghan authorities by Canadian troops, a government source tells The Globe and Mail the figure may in fact be closer to 130. Through Defence Minister Peter MacKay, the federal government has steadfastly denied any detainees were tortured after their hand-over. “Not a single Taliban prisoner turned over by Canadian Forces can be proven to have been abused,” MacKay said at the Halifax conference. “That is the crux of the issue.”

Canadian Press

The Globe and Mail

CBC News

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Canadian Forces knew

  1. MacKay needs to go.

    The standard here ought to be "reasonable doubt" not "proven". If there's reasonable doubt about whether the detainees were getting tortured by the Afghan authorities, MacKay should have ordered the transfers ended. Period.

    If he were arguing that Canadian Forces stopped sending detainees once the allegations turned out to have reasonable grounds, then that would be fine. But this "nothing's been proven" business is pretty lame.

  2. Notice he also said not a single "Taliban". Now it is my understanding that the people detained were suspects many of whom simply turned out to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Pretty good way of deflecting criticism.

  3. "“Not a single Taliban prisoner turned over by Canadian Forces can be proven to have been abused,” MacKay said at the Halifax conference. “That is the crux of the issue.”

    Sounds like legalese to me. McKay is a sellout.

    • As long as it can't be proved? That's what matters? jeez…

      • I agree caution is better than the alternative, but surely proof counts for something!

  4. November 23, 2009

    The world voted 95% against the war in Afghaistan remember. The electorate made this decision including Muslims
    It seems to me that the MP's and beurocrats side stepped the electorate deliberately and the blame lies squarely on thier shoulders. Bring home the Canadian Military immediately. We need them in Canada. The reputation of Canada is becoming trashed in the same manner as the United States
    Druges the issue : Perhaps we need to focus in Canada