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Afghan agency reported 400 cases of torture – 47 of them in Kandahar.

I’m presuming that Peter MacKay and the rest of the Conservative government will claim since this agency didn’t actually, you know, see the torture first hand, it’s ‘not reliable’:

An Afghan agency, at one time entrusted to monitor Canadian-captured insurgents in Kandahar, says it has documented nearly 400 cases of torture across the war-ravaged country…The Conservative government has described Colvin’s allegation as hearsay, unsubstantiated and “simply not credible.” However, the Afghan commission said it uncovered 47 cases of abuse in Kandahar, which was ranked third in terms of the number of abuse claims in the country.

“Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment are common in the majority of law enforcement institutions, and at least 98.5 per cent of interviewed victims have been tortured,” said the commission’s April 2009 study.

The independent study, which tracked abuse claims between 2001 and early 2008, shows the vast majority of them — 243 — were levelled in 2006 and 2007. That is the time frame when Colvin was in Afghanistan and warning the federal government about torture.

MacKay and the Conservatives are still out there claiming there is still no solid proof anyone turned over to the Afghan NDS has been abused or tortured – solid proof apparently meaning to the Conservatives that someone has to see it happening first-hand (and how many bets if someone came forward to say that they had – the Conservatives would ask where the video tape of it was.. etc etc? Is there any doubt they’d trip over themselves raising the standard of proof needed on this?).

As Aaron Wherry queries, he wonders if that means more then a few reports on this topic are also going to be officially dismissed by the Canadian government:

It is unclear whether this consideration equally imperils some or all of this 2005 report of the U.S. State Department, this 2008 report of the State Department, the 2007 reporting of the Globe’s Graeme Smith, this government’s own 2006 overview of the human rights situation in Afghanistan, or this 2009 report of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.

..And don’t forget the Afghan prison warden that Canwest interviewed who readily admitted there was torture there, but it wasn’t THAT bad:

Prisoners were tortured at Sarpoza Prison in Afghanistan, but not in nearly the numbers alleged this past week by a Canadian diplomat, the prison’s chief warden has told Canwest News Service. “Yes, there was torture and people were certainly beaten,” chief warden Col. Abdullah Bawar said Saturday during an interview conducted inside the prison’s heavily guarded walls. “Hands and legs would be tied and they would be beaten with cables. I even remember one man who broke his leg from a beating.”

Although his timeline was a bit fuzzy as to when such abuses stopped, Bawar estimated that “around 100 prisoners” from a population of about 1,100 had been physically abused during 2006 and 2007, which he referred to as “this dark period.”

So let’s get this straight: The warden of an Afghan prison admits to torture occurring, but the Conservative government can’t admit that any of the reports it received or a report such as this is are ‘credible instances of torture’?



21 comments to Afghan agency reported 400 cases of torture – 47 of them in Kandahar.

  • Al

    The Harper Government is purely Machiavellian and the Afghan story proves it

  • Big Winnie

    Wow!! Blaming the former Liberal government for the (in)actions of the current CON government that has had 4 years to investigate, correct actions is totally ridiculous.

    “we would be working with a not-so-democratic Afghan leadership at some point and things like this – handing over prisoners for torture – would happen”

    So in essense, by your comments, you are advocating torture, that it is fine that the government was complicit and that the actions of the government don’t contravene the Geneva Convention?

  • Emily A Madsen

    Brant, perhaps you should ask those people how they feel about having suspicion of complicity in contraventions to the Geneva Convention hanging over our soldiers and the Afghan mission. We now have long time friends overseas writing about our government’s cover-ups and the smell of warcrimes is in the air.
    Not exactly winning hearts and minds, are we? Europeans didn’t think much of the Bush foreign policy and some see Canada as pursuing a similar one.

  • Senior Source

    It was a Liberal government that sent us to Afghanistan and kept us there for five years until Harper took over. IT was a Liberal government which volunteered Canada for the dangerous Kandahar mission. Stephen Harper was the one to put an end to the Afghanistan occupation, sagely noting that we’ve been there longer than WWII and promising to pull our troops out in 2011, which cannot come soon enough.

    The blame rests 100% on the Liberal government which sent us there, and on Liberal supporters who blindly supported this invasion and occupation. None of this sticks to Harper – he inherited this mess from the Liberals and did well to secure our release in 2011.

    It was obviuous to all but the brain dead that we would be working with a not-so-democratic Afghan leadership at some point and things like this – handing over prisoners for torture – would happen; to express shock over it now, 7 years later, reflects poorly on the intellect of the shocked.

    • @Senior Source, That’s quite the delusional statement there. I thought members of the Prime Minister’s Office weren’t allowed to browse blogs while on duty.

    • @Senior Source, The cover-up sticks to Harper. The denials of what was “obvious to all but the brain dead” sticks to Harper. The attempt to portray concern for adherence to international law and to the Criminal Code of Canada as sympathy for the Taliban sticks to Harper. The character assassination of a(nother) dedicated and conscientious public servant sticks to Harper.

      The Liberals were idiots to kowtow to GWB and send us into Afstan in the first place. They committed us til 2009. It was Harper who extended the undefinable mission to 2011.

      According to AIHRC and the warden at Kandahar, the majority of abuses took place in 2006 and 2007. Colvin sent his memos during the Harper reign. Human Rights Watch submitted a damning report to the UN and NATO in November 2006.

    • @Senior Source,

      Harper and his government voted to extend the mission. Twice. Once in a suprise motion brought forward by the CPC government in March 2007.

      Stop lying. Harper had the chance to get them out and choose to make them stay…this is as much on him as any of the previous governments.

    • marie

      Senior Source, get your pea brain out of your rear end and quit being so darn dense. If you think Canadians will support Harper with this kind of stupidity, you will be surprised and shocked to find out that only his blind supporters will still support him once the Media starts to open their partisan eyes and they will if the shit hits the fan and they want to take advantage of the headlines.

      You don’t speak for the majority of us Senior source. I would not be so insesetive to the Afghan people and the torture that has taken place. Another thing source, with all the blunders and lies your dictator Steve has done, when it comes to the crucnch voters will show your hero out the door and out ofthe PMO without any regrets.

  • Joan Richard

    Our soldier do what they are told to do. The decisions are made by the polititians and are directed by the Generals. This is not a denouncement of our soldiers but of the military presence and what they do.

    • Jon Pertwee

      @Joan Richard, well that depends on whether individual soldiers are implicated. Then, the argument lies more on the individual. A soldier can refuse to obey and order based on humanitarian grounds like torture. They aren’t mindless drones nor should they be regarded as such.

  • I posit that the relevant issue is a government policy that orders our soldiers to dishonour our country by committing war crimes.

    The Americans argue that the Guantanamo prisoners are not covered by Geneva but I have never heard a Canadian official state that the prisoners we capture in battle are not covered. Geneva or not, such policy violates the Criminal Code of Canada:

    269.1 (1) Every official, or every person acting at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of an official, who inflicts torture on any other person is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.

    (2) For the purposes of this section,

    “official” «fonctionnaire»
    “official” means

    (a) a peace officer,

    (b) a public officer,

    (c) a member of the Canadian Forces, or

    (d) any person who may exercise powers, pursuant to a law in force in a foreign state, that would, in Canada, be exercised by a person referred to in paragraph (a), (b), or (c),

    whether the person exercises powers in Canada or outside Canada;

    “torture” «torture»
    “torture” means any act or omission by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person.

  • Brant

    What they are more likely to care about is the fact that Canadian forces violated the Geneva Conventions and committed war crimes by transferring those detainees.

    Wether these detainees are covered by the Geneva Conventions or is one argument we could have all day. The more releveant issue right now is trying to convince uncaring voters that they should care. And telling them that our soldiers “committed war crimes” is not going to change their mind.

    • Jon Pertwee

      @Brant, that’s right Brant. Keep sweeping it under the carpet and it will go away. “These are not the droids you are looking for”

      Good luck with that jedi master.

  • Voters may not care much if Afghans torture Afghans. What they are more likely to care about is the fact that Canadian forces violated the Geneva Conventions and committed war crimes by transferring those detainees. Canadian voters may also care about the way the Harper team tried to cover up it’s complicity. Cover-ups, lies, character assassinations and callous disregard for International Law are things voters do care about.

  • Anon ABC

    Brant: While you might be right that some voters will not care (for whatever reason), that is really not the point here. If it turns out that Canada had violated international law by facilating the torture of prisoners (some of whom would appear to be even non-combatants), then it is indeed much more serious than whether the Libs, or any other opposition parties, can win an election on this issue. It is not a partisan issue. It flows to the core of what are our intrinsic Canadian values. And I do believe that most Canadians would not support the transfer of prisoners if they knew that the latter would be treated inhumanely.

    The Libs must stand up for Canadians on this issue. And indeed they have, as have all the other opposition parties as well. It speaks volumes that the Cons and their friends in the MSM are trying to spin this into a partisan issue, for example, by attacking Iggy’s supposed silence on this matter. One could easily predict the attacks that would have spewed from the Cons camp and their friends in the MSM if Iggy had uttered even one word about this issue last week.

  • roger

    good argument.

  • Brant

    I wonder how the PMO is going to spin these latest reports? Tell Canadians that all the reports are false?

    They might, but they won’t have to. For the most part and sadly enough, people won’t care. Go ahead. Start asking people in general outside of the political bubble if they care that prisoners we relinquish to the Afghan government are being tortured by their own people.

    Canadians have more domestic problems they are worrying about right now. That is not to say that what is happening over there isn’t very problematic, because it is. But voters won’t care.

    • Jon Pertwee

      @Brant, speak for yourself. Ive talked to enough who do care and in more than one province. Good luck with that empathy and humanity though Brant.

  • S

    It will be ironic if the treatment of Afghan citizens marks the tipping point of public support for the Cons when the Canadian Public is also suffering under the same government – listeriosis deaths and continuing lack of oversight there, isotope shortages now plaguing the entire Canadian health care system, ignoring the recommendations of Canadian police forces in their duty to protect Canadians, the abandoning of Canadian citizens while abroad; yet it may be the cover up of complicity in torture that hurts this government most. Go figure.

  • Big Winnie

    The whole issue of torture and the government’s complicity in it is gaining more momentum as more diplomats, reporters, etc, are revealing what they know to back up what Mr. Colvin stated last week.

    I wonder how the PMO is going to spin these latest reports? Tell Canadians that all the reports are false?

  • Chet

    The Conservatives have awoken a sleeping giant by attacking someone this high in the public service. The crats are the ones who actually run this country, not the political class, and they will not be pushed around by a bunch of second rate Albertan hicks.

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