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The standard of proof


 

In QP this morning, John Baird explained, in part, the government’s unwillingness to put its faith in Mr. Colvin’s testimony as follows.

Mr. Speaker, it is important to note that in his testimony before the committee earlier this week Mr. Colvin confirmed that he never witnessed abuse firsthand.

It is unclear whether this consideration equally imperils some or all of this 2005 report of the U.S. State Department, this 2008 report of the State Department, the 2007 reporting of the Globe’s Graeme Smith, this government’s own 2006 overview of the human rights situation in Afghanistan, or this 2009 report of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.

It’s also unclear whether the government believed Mr. Colvin to have firsthand knowledge of abuse when, as the Defence Minister explained yesterday, the government revised its detainee transfer agreement because of “concerns that were being expressed by Colvin and others.”

Keeping in mind that it is equally unclear to what degree Mr. Colvin’s concerns were taken into account given that Gordon O’Connor, the defence minister at the time, said yesterday that he did not read any of Mr. Colvin’s reports.


 

The standard of proof

  1. "Mr. Speaker, it is important to note that in his testimony before the committee earlier this week Mr. Colvin confirmed that he never witnessed abuse firsthand."

    I hear that many convictions occur in the absence of first hand witness to the actual crimes. Does Mr. Baird believe our prisons to be full of wrongfully convincted men and women?

    • I am pretty sure no Conservative MP witnessed first hand any of the events that led to the Sponsorship Scandal, but it never stopped them from talking about it.

  2. Richard Colvin is one diplomat- he is not a judge nor is he an authorized research body looking into Afghanistan.

    As a witness everything he says is hearsay.

    He should provide the names of everyone who told him they witnessed abuse and then THOSE PEOPLE should testify before the house.

    Obviously.

    • He never claimed to be a judge. But to dismiss his testimony in entirety is shameful. How do you propose to ship a bunch of Afghan prisoners to Ottawa to testify. by the way?

      • Nobody has dismissed his testimony.

        We're simply saying that when someone makes a claim it needs to be corroborated and it cannot rely on hearsay.

        PS – we have internet technology, people can testify over skype for goodness sake. This isn't the 20th century.

        And why on earth anyone would believe the word of taliban prisoners is beyond me. Its in the terrorist handbook to make claims of abuse at all times.

        • Yes, the government has dismissed his testimony. MacKay, in a scrum, accused Colvin of simply accepting Taliban lies as truth. I see you've picked up the Con talking points with regard to "all prisoners are Taliban and lie". Problem is, a lot of what Colvin (and Semple, see my link below) know comes from family, prisoners who are not Taliban, and – get this – Afghan guards who have come forward because they don't like what's going on (listen to the Semple interview).

          It's an outright lie to suggest that Colvin is simply being overly credulous toward Taliban prisoner claims. MacKay knows it, Baird knows it, and O'Connor knows it. And their newly found hobby in jurisprudence is about the dumbest ploy I've ever seen, made further insulting in the face of Foreign Affairs telling everyone to back off and avoid prejudging the proceedings (see Wherry's more recent post).

          I can tolerate nasty. I can tolerate stupid. But I find their combination unbearable.

          Skype. That's funny.

  3. It's too bad Colvin didn't say tougher penalties and more jails reduce crime. The government doesn't need any evidence for that!

    • Too bad the government never claimed that. The arguement is "tough on crime". Its about satisfiying the desire to see justice being done, not some nerdy arguement about statistics on recidivism.

  4. Did anybody catch last night's As It Happens interview with Michael Semple, who was formerly the EU equivalent to Colvin?

    http://www.cbc.ca/radioshows/AS_IT_HAPPENS/200911

    Short version: There's considerable evidence of systematic torture which is widely known in their community, and Canada had no mechanism to verify the treatment of prisoners they turned over. As such, it's all but impossible to avoid the conclusion that many of our prisioners were tortured after being turned over.

    I can't believe the Conservatives are pursuiing this 'first hand' nonsense with a straight face.

  5. Yes, I repost:

    "It doesn't have to be true, it just has to be plausible."

  6. Thaks for this!
    Entertaining and gives Johnny feedback to ignore…

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