Canada complicit in torture of innocent Afghans, diplomat says

In a damning indictment of how Canada handled prisoners early in its southern Afghan mission, a government whistleblower says all captives that Canadian soldiers transferred to local authorities ended up being tortured – even though many were likely innocent.

The revelation to MPs by Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin, who served 17 months in Afghanistan, is the first ever testimony by a government official that says the country’s military handed over detainees to certain torture.

The Harper government has never admitted it knew this was happening.

In his remarks to a Parliamentary committee on the Afghanistan mission, Mr. Colvin also described a startling pattern of indifference and obstruction to his attempts to warn higher ups of what was happening in 2006 and 2007.

He said Canada’s “complicity in torture” ultimately thwarted its military aims in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar.

“Instead of winning hearts and minds, we caused Kandaharis to fear the foreigners. Canada’s detainee practices alienated us from the population and strengthened the insurgency.”

Mr. Colvin, who first started red-flagging for Ottawa “serious, imminent and alarming” problems with the treatment of detainees in May 2006, said Canada took far more prisoners in the early days than some other NATO allies. He said Canadians captured six times more than the British and 20 times as many as the Dutch.

[more...]

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