Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Actually Cons, Colvin WAS Muzzled

The Conservatives are living in their own twisted version of Through the Looking Glass.

Last week, when David Mulroney testified in front of the special committee on Afghanistan, he attempted to rebut Richard Colvin's allegations that he was "muzzled" when he tried to report on detainee abuse allegations. Mulroney admitted that he told his officials that he preferred that they communicate by phone first - because all of those e-mails (which could be tracked later) were just too confusing to those in charge. No paper trail. How convenient.

Now we learn, via the Globe and Mail that parts of Colvin's reports were "edited":

Canada's former ambassador to Afghanistan asked a diplomat to erase two bluntly worded sections from an April, 2007, report on how Ottawa's delays in notifying the Red Cross of prisoner transfers to Afghan authorities left these detainees vulnerable to abuse.

The Globe and Mail has learned that Arif Lalani asked for the edits from Richard Colvin, a diplomat at the centre of an unfolding controversy over whether Canada turned a blind eye when handing prisoners to Afghanistan's torture-prone authorities.

This editing took place in April, 2007, only days after a Globe investigation revealed disturbing allegations of abuse and torture among prisoners transferred by Canadians to Afghan detention - stories that kicked off a stormy debate in Ottawa.

In one of the sections he was requested to delete, Mr. Colvin remarked on a pattern observed by the Red Cross: that abuse took place almost immediately after prisoners were transferred to the Afghans - timing that meant Canada's tardiness made it very hard for the human-rights monitor to guard against torture.

"[A Red Cross official], who had read The Globe and Mail's reporting, said that the allegations of abuse made by those Afghans interviewed by [reporter] Graeme Smith fit a common pattern," Mr. Colvin wrote in text that was cut out.

"In the International Committee of the Red Cross's experience, 'a lot of abuse happens in the first days,' " he wrote, adding that the human-rights monitor argued this was cause for "more rapid notification" that "would offer better protection to the detainees."


In another section he was asked by Mr. Lalani to erase, Mr. Colvin reminded Ottawa that it had been warned about 10 months earlier of these dangerous delays in notifying the Red Cross of detainees.

In the deleted text, Mr. Colvin even acknowledged that Ottawa's own internal statistics on notification delays corroborated the Red Cross's estimates. "Our own records substantiate ICRC's comments about continued delays in notification," the diplomat wrote. "For the four-month period of December 1, 2006, to March 30, 2007, the gap from detention by Canadian Forces to ICRC being informed was as long as 34 days," he wrote.
Somebody in Steve's government needs to look up the word "muzzled" in the dictionary.

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