Let us now ask some uncomfortable questions - Macleans.ca

Let us now ask some uncomfortable questions

Aaron Wherry on the Mellissa Fung release

by

Mellissa Fung

So if Mellissa Fung has it right, her release came as a result of a “prisoner exchange.” In response to her kidnapping, essentially, the Afghan authorities claimed their own hostages and approached her kidnappers with a trade: you release her, we’ll release yours. We don’t know who was held and then released as part of the deal, but one might assume they weren’t of much danger or guilt if they were subsequently set free.

So. First and foremost, are we all okay with this?

What did the Canadian government and the Prime Minister know of this deal and when did they know it? What did the CBC know and when did they know it? Why was this arrangement not declared as soon as news of her release was announced?

Never minding Afghan laws (or lack thereof) in this regard, is this sort of arrangement legal under Canadian law, as seemingly claimed by the Prime Minister in his first press conference? Does this correspond with current Canadian foreign policy? Do we now negotiate with terrorists? Or is this considered to be beyond the general definition of “negotiation?”

How real is the threat of torture when someone is detained in Afghanistan? Was a threat, implicit or explicit, of torture part of the negotiations? What responsibility does Canada take for the treatment of those detained in this transaction by the Afghan government? What responsibility should Canada take for the treatment of those detained in this transaction by the Afghan government?

(Let’s leave it there. Though if any bit of this was even mildly untoward, then, of course, we are into a whole other round of questions about everything we’ve been doing for the last seven years and how one engages the bad guys without becoming a little like them in the process.)