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Are Canadian officials already being investigated by the ICC?

A very interesting snippet at the end of this Globe and Mail story, which is discussing the documents that show the Red Cross alerted Canadian officials to possible torture going on in Afghan detention facilities:

Separately, two human-rights professors, acting on Mr. Colvin’s testimony, have asked the International Criminal Court in The Hague to expand a preliminary analysis of allegations of war crimes in Afghanistan to include figures beyond retired general Rick Hillier and former defence minister Gordon O’Connor.

That type of wording would seem to imply a preliminary investigation is already being undertaken by the ICC, and that they’re already looking at Hillier and O’Conner’s actions (or lack thereof) in this Afghan detainee transfers matter – if this has been worded correctly. Of course, it also should be concerning to the Harper government that the ICC may decide to expand that investigation to other Canadian officials.

As Impolitical says at her site (and kudos to her for first noticing that paragraph), surely this should wake the Harper government up:

This news should be enough to give this government serious pause about its refusal to have a public judicial inquiry. Are they prepared to let Canada be investigated by the International Criminal Court, our military and political leaders? With all that entails for Canada’s name on the world stage? This is not an ordinary political bump to be managed out of the PMO in the hopes that it will go away yet they’re treating it like that. There should be some capability among these people to distinguish the everyday partisan fight from one that’s not. There are mechanisms in place independent of the Harper government and they are being sought out.

On the other hand, there’s always the more disconcerting possibility that this possible ICC involvement in investigating Canadian officials is the very reason that the Harper government is resisting calls for an independent judicial public inquiry.

UPDATE @ 12:38 pm: A preliminary investigation seems to have been confirmed from Kady O’Malley:

Back in 2007, UBC law professor Michael Byers requested that the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court launch what he describes as a ” ‘preliminary examination’ into alleged war crimes by Canadian officials in and related to Afghanistan” — a request, he says, that has “since been granted.” He’s promising to “explain the latest developments” at a press conference today —

Here are the contents of that press conference that Kady live-blogged.


8 comments to Are Canadian officials already being investigated by the ICC?

  • Big Winnie

    Wilson, actually it’s about whether or not Canada was aware of torture of detainees in Afghanistan and refused to do anything about it. The opposition parties have already asked for a public inquiry, inclusive of the former Liberal governemnts, so what’s Harper trying to coverup by refusing it? Or is Harper waiting for the ICC to hold an inquiry and let the world see how the Canadian government was complicit in the torture of Afghan detainees?

  • kmartin

    This whole issue stinks for the conservatives and the opposition parties who refuse to drag it out in the press but lets look at the real cause of the problem which is the war we are fighting. It is obvious that trying to cover this up and lie about it is the wrong thing to do and they should be called out on it.
    WHat do we do with the soldiers we capture?
    1. Do we continue to turn them back over even though it is suspected they MAY be tortured?
    2. Do we bring them home to be tried and imprisoned here costing taxpayers millions of dollars?
    3. Do we hand them over to American’s and let them deal with it?
    4. Do not take any prisoners(100%) casualties on the battlefield?
    5. Do we just pull out completely and NOT accept any immigrants until NATO and they can assure us the insurgency is dead?
    The way I see it do we really have a choice? It is absurd to think that we can rehabilitate these people. Their hatred of our way of life is so deeply ingrained in them that the way they think about us wont changed for many generations to come if ever!
    Another point and I know I will take a lot of flak from this is: We are not dealing with a civilized group here. These are people who send their women out to fight and strap bombs to themselves to attain a higher body count. I know that they wish to change but change is going to take a very long time. SO for now we are faced with trying to deal with un-civilized people. Some want change, some dont. How do we distinguish between the good and the bad if we allowed open immigration from there? It is impossible and my example is the Brampton 9 who were home grown terrorists who were born here but sympathetic to the cause over there.
    The hard reality is that if we are going to stay and finish the mission we have no choice but to give them back no matter what is going on. If the torture bothers you then just remember that we are trying to help these people but they obviously dont want to help themselves enter civilized society and it is obvious they dont want to follow the rules of the Geneva convention or what ever body it is that determines the rules of combat.
    So in my view option 1 and 4 are the ONLY option to take untill 2011 when we pull out then option 5 all the way. I dont like option 1 either but to me right now it is the only choice we have unless we use option 4.

    • @kmartin, What way of life are you protecting, kmartin? Not mine, clearly, as I believe that people have rights, and aren’t assumed, for instance, to be guilty. It is well known that many of those ‘captured’ are innocents, and yet, they were still subject to detainment and possibly torture.

      As for what else you said, my eyes just roll. You can’t call us civilized and have us not give a crap about detainee rights.

      If we detain, we have an obligation to ensure the prisoners are taken care of properly. Sort through them for the problem ones, and either hold them as prisoners of war, or put them on trial. I suggest the former.

      • kmartin

        @Mark Francis, I had to re-read where I said i was trying to protect a way of life? I missed it. I agree with you 100% that people have rights and are presumed innocent until proven guilty. So they plant a road side IED blow up our men and some people want to coddle them. What rights did our soldiers have coming home in a box? The question is who are we in a foreign combat zone asked to be there by NaTO to determine this? Every bone in my body screams that turning them over is totally wrong. THe woman in me screams for the women in that country to be able to have the same rights as the men. Look. I am for the most part a liberal supporter and for Harper to be trying to cover this up and sweep it under the carpet is dead wrong. Most liberal supporter do not want another GITMO yet if you want to detain untill we can somehow(not sure how) sort out the bad apples then another GITMO on AFGHAN soil monitored by the UN and all countries may be the answer. You can roll your eyes all you want. I have a first cousin over there who says how dangerous it is and hard to determine who is friend or foe. One minute they are in a gun battle the next moment they sneak out the back door and act like they are our best friends. So if you have some magical way of sorting this out I would love to hear it.

  • wilson

    Do some reading guys.
    It’s about torture in Afghanistan, in US prisons (yah know, where Chretien/Martin handed over Cdn detainees for 4 years) and Afghanistan government investigation into torture by their own authorites….

  • Liam

    How will slippery Steve weasel out of this one? Who knows, but might as well be known as the ‘Rubber Man’ or ‘Teflon Man’ because somehow he always manages to get out of these messes.

  • Big Winnie

    Either the Canadian govt does a public inquiry or the ICC may do one. Take your pick Harper!!

  • Re your last sentence, it is my understanding the the ICC gets involved when nations are unwilling or unable to deal with such crimes through domestic measures. If that is the case, Harper’s intransigence vis-a-vis a public inquiry will only hasten the ICC’s efforts.

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