December 2 2009
OTTAWA — The federal government released almost 200 pages of heavily censored documents about Afghanistan detainees on Wednesday, prompting critics to assert that the excessive secrecy highlights the need for a public inquiry.
“What we’ve seen from this government is a whole lot of redaction, in other words blacked out documents,” charged Paul Dewar, NDP foreign affairs critic. “It’s like reading tea leaves.”
Dewar produced his own document, obtained through an access to information request, showing that the government had blacked out a reference to torture in a 2006 report from its own Foreign Affairs bureaucrats on the state of human rights in Afghanistan.
The original, unedited, document, which was leaked to the media in 2007, concluded that “extrajudicial executions, disappearances, torture and detention without trial are all too common.”
“This is precisely why Canadians can’t trust any documents with redactions from this government,” said Dewar.
The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association joined calls for a judicial inquiry. The association’s litigation director, Grace Pastine, said that the “heavily, heavily redacted” federal reports shed little light on what the government knew about allegations that Taliban insurgents were abused after Canadian troops handed the captives over to Afghan control.
The government released the documents Wednesday to a special House of Commons committee on Afghanistan, which requested them two weeks ago to support allegations from senior bureaucrat Richard Colvin that his superiors in Ottawa and Afghanistan turned a blind eye to his allegations in 2006 that detainees were tortured in Afghan jails.
Colleen Swords, who was an assistant deputy minister during Colvin’s 17-month stint in Afghanistan, refuted Colvin’s allegations that he persistently warned her and other government officials about torture. Colvin fingered Swords in particular, saying that she told him to use the phone instead of putting his concerns in writing.
Swords appeared before the committee one week after three military generals and a former deputy foreign minister, David Mulroney, dismissed Colvin’s allegations as untrue.
In Beijing, Prime Minister Stephen Harper told reporters he has no intention of calling a public inquiry.
“The government of Canada has taken all necessary actions in all instances where there is proof of abuse of Afghan prisoners,” Harper said. “I think the opposition has nothing to do when it is talking about something that happened three years ago.”
As the government released its redacted documents, the head of the Military Police Complaints Commission, Peter Tinsley, permitted the release of material the government had provided to the commission, which is conducting a probe into the role of the military police in transferring detainees.
Tinsley concluded that the government has leaked so many of the documents to the media that the records should be publicly released to protect Colvin’s reputation from being impugned.
Colvin is one of almost two dozen witnesses who have been called to testify at the commission but the government has been trying to block them, citing national security concerns. The Commons committee began public hearings last month after the commission puts its probe on hold, saying it cannot proceed because it has been stonewalled by the government.
The newly released reports confirm Colvin’s contention that the International Committee of the Red Cross, the humanitarian organization responsible for monitoring the human-rights situation in Afghanistan, repeatedly raised red flags in 2006 over Canada handing over detainees without an adequate process in place to keep track of them.
One year later, in the spring of 2007, the government strengthened its transfer-of-prisoners arrangement with Afghanistan to ensure followup and prison monitoring.
Meanwhile, newly released documents show Red Cross officials complained in May and September 2006 that the Canadian military was refusing to provide basic information about Afghans it was holding captive, hampering the international organization’s efforts to keep track of prisoners.
The heavily censored records, released late Wednesday by the government, provide a glimpse into how federal bureaucrats and military officers, both in Ottawa and Afghanistan, were dealing with individuals being detained by Canadian troops in Kandahar.
“Because of inadequate information collection and occasional reporting delays, the (censored from documents) office is losing track of some Afghan detainees,” a May 26, 2006, e-mail sent by Colvin and circulated to various officials in Foreign Affairs and the Defence Department, pointed out.
“Efforts to resolve these problems to date have not been successful. (Organization name censored from document) ‘very much taken aback’ by the lack of co-operation from Cdn military in theatre.”
The e-mail was also sent to the office of then Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay.
The e-mail pointed out the Red Cross was concerned it was taking as long as two months before the Canadian military was providing notification that a person had been detained. “And a lot can happen in two months,” it added.
With files from David Akin and David Pugliese, Canwest News Service and Ottawa Citizen Video at the Source. Source
- List of Afghans detained by Canadians was growing: records
- ‘Torture’ not mentioned in Afghan detainee reports: Generals
- Afghan detainees surrendered by Canada were tortured: Envoy
- Ex-defence chief cannot ‘recall’ reading report over Afghan detainees
I smell a cover up. Harper is not to be trusted to many times he has gone behind Canadians backs to make backroom deals.
Like “The Canadian and Israel Public Security Agreement”
Want to know about Israels terrorist activities check HERE.
It’s a rather long list including using Mossad using Canadian passports in an assasinsination attempt.
Harper is also trying to remove Freedom of Speech from Canadians.
So if any Canadians drop by or you know any please send them the link of the Post Below. There is a Petition as well as Gov. MP Contact info and information.
The Government has gone so far as to ban a British MP from entering Canada because he supported those in Gaza. Absolutely Appalling.
Is Osama bin Laden still alive, Seems the answer is no Seems he Died in December 2001