Monday, March 3, 2008

Canadian military decides to resume detainee transfers

From the Globe and Mail:

Rights groups renew bid to halt detainee transfers

KABUL and OTTAWA — Canada has resumed transfers of detainees to Afghan custody, officials announced yesterday, triggering another legal showdown with civil-rights groups that insist there's still a risk that those handed over will be tortured. ...

Defence Minister Peter MacKay made it clear that the military opted to resume transfers, and that he leaves that decision to them.

"We rely heavily on their decision-making abilities," Mr. MacKay told reporters in Newfoundland. "I have every confidence that they've weighed this … carefully."

Many details of new handovers were kept secret yesterday.

Officials declined to say exactly when transfers resumed, how many detainees have been transferred, or whether Canada has emptied the makeshift prison facility at Kandahar Air Field that held a growing number of detainees for almost four months. ...

In a statement read to reporters, Canadian officials listed ways they believe that conditions in Afghan custody have changed in recent months:

* A senior NDS official in Kandahar has been arrested and held in custody for his suspected role in the case of torture documented by Canadian officials.

* Canada has started a new training program for prison officials, teaching them human-rights principles and proper interrogation methods. ... (link)

Here's the New York Times chiming in on the same development:
Unlike the United States and Britain, Canada will not disclose the number of prisoners it has detained in Afghanistan, citing security concerns. ... (link)
The Times' observation should be kept in mind the next time a Canadian government or military official whines about other NATO countries' dreaded caveats which restrict their armies from certain types of activities.

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