What should have been known and when?

Gen. Michel Gauthier made reference Wednesday afternoon to the Globe and Mail’s reporting in April 2007 as to when he first became aware of allegations of torture. Without the transcript of his comments it’s unclear—from my memory and what’s being reported elsewhere—how precisely he qualified that statement, whether he was referring to specific allegations of general torture, specific allegations related to detainees transferred by Canadian Forces, or something else entirely.

In terms of third-party sourcing—and in lieu, so far, of Mr. Colvin’s full reporting—there are at least three general reports that precede the Globe’s investigation. On March 3, 2006 UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour, a Canadian, reported that complaints of “arbitrary arrest, illegal detention and torture” were common in the Afghan justice system. The U.S. State Department’s 2005 report on Afghanistan appears to have been published on March 8, 2006. It states that “credible observers reported that local authorities in Herat, Helmand, and other locations routinely tortured and abused detainees.” And on June 2, 2006, a Canadian Press story was sent out on the wires that cited a spokesman for the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission who estimated that human rights violations were experienced by approximately 30 percent of transferred prisoners.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.