The burden of proof - Macleans.ca

The burden of proof

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As noted, the government’s present stance, as articulated by Defence Minister Peter MacKay, is as follows: “There has never been a single proven allegation of abuse involving a prisoner transferred by the Canadian Forces. Not one.”

Here, again, it is perhaps worth reviewing the report that seemingly brought a halt to transfers in November 2007. Page one of the report indicates it was filed by a Canadian official after a visit to a “detention facility in Kandahar City to interview Canadian-transferred detainees.” At page three, it is disclosed that a detainee made an “allegation of abuse.” He described the abuse, then pointed to a chair, underneath which, he said, were the implements used to abuse him. There, the Canadian officials found “a large piece of braided electrical wire as well as a rubber hose.” The detainee then showed Canadian officials a four-inch bruise on his back. The Canadian official reports that the mark “could possibly be the result of a blow.” The detainee asked that the allegation be kept confidential and the Canadian official cautions that the matter should be handled “strategically,” while raising the possibility of “retaliation.”

If this does not establish an incident of torture, or demonstrate a reasonable threat of torture, what, for the sake of argument, would? Would a Canadian official have to personally follow a Canadian-transferred detainee into prison and then personally witness the torture of that detainee? Is a legal verdict required? Would an Afghan or Canadian court have to find an Afghan official guilty of torturing a Canadian-transferred detainee?