'We have in front of us a dilemma' - Macleans.ca

‘We have in front of us a dilemma’


Yesterday’s House debate on an Afghanistan inquiry begins here, with contributions from Paul Dewar, Peter MacKay, Ujjal Dosanjh, Bob Rae, Jack Harris and Lawrence Cannon, among others. After turning to other business, the House resumed debate here. One argument of note: Peter MacKay would seem to agree with Gen. Michel Gauthier’s contention that the situation somehow falls outside the Geneva Conventions.

It is important to understand, first, that Afghan detainees are not prisoners of war. However, they are treated as if they were prisoners of war. We do not treat them differently, keeping in mind that they do not fit that definition.

John Geddes dealt with this yesterday.


‘We have in front of us a dilemma’

  1. whoa

  2. The Geneva Conventions don't seem to apply to many Western nations and their allies as of late. Smaller scale, like detainee transfers, broadcasting images of killed enemies from Iraq and the Khadr situation to the larger scale, like Israeli or Russian forces attacking civilians…

    There is no high road anymore, so we shouldn't be surprised… what country still maintains a moral high ground?

  3. Are you saying that Mackay even understands what the Geneva Convention is?

  4. Israeli forces attack civilians? More like there is no ground that moral equivalence has left uncovered.

    I don't think that Geneva applies, or should apply either. The value of them in my view is that they are reciprocal terms of treatment of prisoners. If terrorist groups will get the same treatment no matter what they do they have absolutely no incentive to change. Treatment of detainees should be pointedly less than Geneva standards, but observing a basic respect for human beings and with a careful eye to possible wrongly detained people.

  5. If prisoners get treated differently based on who they are, we are, at least in that respect, what the terrorists say we are.

    The fact is, we are bound by the Canadian constitution, legal system & history, not American. The "spirit" of legislation takes precedence over the "letter". This also applies to our interpretation of international law. We don't have to like it, it's just the way it is.

    Besides, the Geneva Conventions clearly specify that the alternative to classifying someone as a "prisoner of war" is to give them the same legal rights your own citizens have. Of the two options the Geneva Conventions allows, prisoners of war have fewer rights and a lower standard of treatment.