'The deliberate cover-up of unwanted truths is more the norm than the exception'

Writing in the Ottawa Citizen, Nipa Banerjee, a former CIDA official described as the head of aid in Afghanistan from 2003 to 2006, explains what she’s been told about torture in Afghanistan and details her particularly experiences.

It seems to me the deliberate cover-up of unwanted truths is more the norm than the exception, especially on the Afghanistan file because of its high public profile. Hiding bad news from the media and the public are the standard operating procedures. What examples do we set while we demand eradication of corruption in Afghanistan? The track record is not pretty…

In 2005-’06, a fraud charge surrounding a CIDA-financed program (approximately $4 million) was brought to my attention by employees of the Canadian NGO charged with implementing it. At this time, against my strongest recommendations and a negative external evaluation, CIDA was considering a second grant to this politically valued NGO, so I was told. Upon receipt of my e-mail alerting CIDA headquarters about the alleged fraud, a superior instructed me to not write any more e-mails on the subject, specifically so as to not leave any written trail that might have to be made available to the Canadian public under the Access to Information Act. My attempts to probe the results of any audit on the NGO met with similar stern warnings. This NGO soon announced bankruptcy.

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