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.”

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