Defence Minister Peter MacKay defended his government Thursday in the face of claims that detainees in Afghanistan were routinely abused by Afghan authorities after being handed over by Canadian soldiers.Flashback to May, 2007:
"There has not been a single, solitary proven allegation of abuse involving a transferred Taliban prisoner by Canadian forces," MacKay said Thursday in the House of Commons.
His comments came a day after Richard Colvin, a former senior diplomat with Canada's Afghanistan mission, dropped a political bombshell on Parliament, alleging that suspects handed over by Canada to Afghan authorities were tortured, and that the government was at best indifferent and at worst tried to cover it up.
Federal opposition parties continued to hammer the Harper government yesterday over the treatment of prisoners in Afghanistan after revelations that the Afghan police beat up a detainee given to them by the Canadian Forces.The Canadian military responded by accusing Noonan of lying under oath and then they shut down the story based on "national security" concerns.
Colonel Steven Noonan, a former task-force commander in Afghanistan, disclosed the incident in a Federal Court affidavit that forms part of the government's response to a legal challenge by Amnesty International Canada and the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association to stop all further detainee transfers.
Col. Noonan's sworn evidence was cited by the opposition in Question Period to demonstrate that the Conservative government was far from telling the truth when its members repeatedly denied that they had no specific examples that any detainee transferred by Canadian troops to Afghan authorities was later subject to abuse or torture.
And if the Conservatives had any credibility whatsoever, they'd relish the chance to have a public inquiry considering that detainee abuse was also alleged to have occured under the previous Liberal government as well.
This, from the Globe and Mail in 2007:
KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN -- Afghans detained by Canadian soldiers and sent to Kandahar's notorious jails say they were beaten, whipped, starved, frozen, choked and subjected to electric shocks during interrogation.And it's no wonder that Hillier is denying allegations now being made by Colvin since Hillier and former Defence minister Gordon O'Connor allegedly committed war crimes.
In 30 face-to-face interviews with men recently captured in Kandahar province, a Globe and Mail investigation has uncovered a litany of gruesome stories and a clear pattern of abuse by the Afghan authorities who work closely with Canadian troops, despite Canada's assurances that the rights of detainees are protected.
Canadian forces regularly hold detainees for a few days of questioning at Kandahar Air Field, then give them to the National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan's feared intelligence police. Over and over, detainees described how Canadians tied their hands with plastic straps, marking the start of nightmarish journeys through shadowy jails and blood-spattered interrogation rooms.
This government cannot be trusted to investigate itself. Neither can the military.
It's long past the time for an independent public inquiry.
Wiki's Canadian Afghan detainee abuse scandal timeline.