'Even in our own prisons somebody can get beaten up' - Macleans.ca

‘Even in our own prisons somebody can get beaten up’


General Rick Hillier doesn’t remember reading Richard Colvin’s memos, seems not to understand what all the fuss is about.

Mr. Hillier derisively compared the political uproar that surrounded Mr. Colvin’s parliamentary testimony to people “howling at the moon” and said nobody ever raised torture concerns with him during the 2006-2007 period in question.

“I don’t remember reading a single one of those cables [from Mr. Colvin] … He doesn’t stick out in my mind,” Mr. Hillier said of the diplomat’s warnings and criticism. “He appears to have covered an incredibly broad spectrum, much of which I’m not sure he’s qualified to talk about.”

The former soldier rejected suggestions Canada was “complicit in any war crimes” – saying Ottawa had a responsible system in place. He also played down the fact Afghan prisoners got hurt in jails. “Even in our own prisons [in Canada] somebody can get beaten up. We know that.”

Mr. Hillier signed the first detainee transfer agreement in 2005, the same agreement Peter MacKay now says was insufficient.


‘Even in our own prisons somebody can get beaten up’

  1. Amazing….remembers enough to write a book (blaming and criticizing everyone else), but doesn't rememer something this important?

  2. Blaming Generel Hillier for the Liberal government drafting an agreement that gave Canadians NO access to the prisoners once they were handed over to Afghan officials, oooh.

    The first prisoners were captured by Canadian soldiers Jan 2002,
    the Liberal government took 3 years and 11 months to draft that agreement, and then handed it to the military to take care of.

    Seems the Liberal government had no concerns what so ever of abuse and torture once the Afghan detainees were handed over.

    • Well then, if you think the prior Liberal government was at fault as well, you and other supporter + the current Conservative government should have no issues in calling a full public inquiry into this matter. What's to hide?

      • Dave · 9 hours ago
        Technically, Canada wasn't responsible for the management of detainees until they took over Kandahar sector in mid 2005. Until then, Canadian Troops in Afghanistan were under the command of US or ISTF leadership and operated in accordance with their policies.

        As one would expect in any command structure.

        In addition, the case in question in the article refers to the operation of small commando forces, being the JTF Unit, turning those they captured over to the larger main military force, the US Army, and not the Afghanistan government. While the JTF was likely to be assigned to tasks that would see them target "high priority" enemy individuals, the kind who were likely to end up in Guantanamo, there's no reason they should not have expected a fellow Geneva signatory to behave inline with their convention obligations.

        Nor, I suspect, would Wilson have been particularly appreciative of the suggestion that they would not at the time

        Hope Dave doesn;t mind my borrowing an earlier rebuttal to Wilson's TPs on Geede's blog.

    • If I was informed that Bill Graham, Pierre Pettigrew or Paul Martin or someone in their office requested that no written information concerning the torture of Afghans be passed on to them I would ask that these liberals be investigated.

      Even I, who is no fan of Harper, would not accuse him of knowingly suppressing information on the torture of Afghan detainees. There is proof of this. But there is enough information to dig further into this so that we never again put our soldiers in such a situation.

      You know Wilson we used to detain German soldiers on Canadian soil during WWII. Do you think we did this because were were cozy with Hitler?

      • Woops.. meant to write There is NO proof of this.

    • who knows maybe stevie will call for an inquiry and start the scope at Chretien …. ROFL! Mulroney Redux!

  3. Just when you think Hillier might be a grown-up, he says sh*t like this. People routinely get shackled and beaten with rods by guards in Canadian prisons? News to me. Maybe Mr. Hillier would like to see for himself.

    • Exactly.. we aren't talking about "Getting beaten up".. we're talking about torture here. Hillier is being obtuse.

    • Very stupid remark by Hillier.

    • Exactly.

      I mean, fine, prisoners in Canadian prisons sometimes get beaten up (though I'd imagine much more often by other prisoners than by guards). Is Hillier suggesting though that nearly every prisoner in Canada is punched, kicked or slapped by guards while in custody? That 30% of prisoners in Canada are beaten with rods? That 17% are beaten with cables? That 11% are tortured with electrical shocks??? Just how close to the Afghan system does Hillier think our prison system is?

      If even 1% of what the Afghan authorities did to prisoners we turned over to them were happening in Canadian prisons it would be a HUGE scandal, and likely dozens of people would lose their positions and there would be many criminal prosecutions. By my calculations, if Hillier's saying that Canadian prisons are even just 1% as bad as the Afghan prisons we turned detainees over to, then roughly 40 people have been tortured with electrical shock in Canadian prisons in the last decade or so.

      And here's another interesting fact. The people in Canadian prisons have been convicted of crimes in a court of law. Some of the people tortured in Afghanistan were never even really ACCUSED of anything other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. They still ended up getting detained, and sometimes tortured though.

      • He always had mine.

  4. "I am more than willing to help everyone get to the bottom of these allegations, sharing whatever I know subject to limitations required by my pledge to protect national security. You will understand that, much as I have a lot to say about these most recent allegations, I cannot possibly make any further comment at this time."

    THAT's what you say, Mr. Hillier. What you most certainly do NOT do, is joke about prisoners beating each other up here at home.

  5. Well, if they have nothing to hide they would be more willing to have an inquiry………it would look better on the world stage that Canada deals with these concerns.

    So, what are they afraid of?

  6. Hillier is a loudmouth, always has been, always will be. Think Don Cherry, but without the clown outfits.

  7. Let's get Hillier into the committee room and test the buffoonery meter, see if we can bury the needle on that sucker.

    • I hope you are not a liberal becuase believe you me the last thing a liberal wants is to make Hillier angry. If Hillier does end up in the committee room and I hope he does the LPT will be the ones squirming!

  8. Does Hillier not understand what our war time obligations are under the law?

  9. "The former soldier rejected suggestions Canada was “complicit in any war crimes” – saying Ottawa had a responsible system in place. He also played down the fact Afghan prisoners got hurt in jails. “Even in our own prisons [in Canada] somebody can get beaten up. We know that.”"

    I cannot wait to hear Hillier at committee on this one. The man is so full of himself that he won't bother sugar coating any of it. Prepare yourself for one of those Jack Nicholson "you can't handle the truth" moments.

  10. Here's what UNICEF found about the treatment of CHILDREN detained by Afghan police…

    "Experiences of Physical Force, Abuse and Torture

    Although juveniles are entitled to special measures for their protection in the criminal justice system many had been victims of physical force, abuse or even torture.
    All juveniles interviewed were asked to describe their treatment during arrest. 48% reported being beaten and another 8% reported verbal abuse. Only 39% of juveniles reported ‘normal treatment' during arrest. While 11% of females reported being beaten during arrest, the figure for males was 55%… 21% reported not being ill‐treated. 43% of juveniles did not want to answer the question."


    Just 21% of KIDS detained by Afghan CIVILIAN police reported they were NOT ill-treated. Can you imagine what happens to some poor taxi driver rounded up by Canadian troops, labeled 'Taliban', and sent off to be dealt with by the national security forces? Jeezus, what planet is this Hillier on?