Thursday, October 15, 2009

Torture - part trois. Still in denial

Stories are bursting onto the pages of Canadian newspapers today about the probability of torture of prisoners taken by Canadian forces in Afghanistan and handed over to Afghan or U.S. forces.

Many comments seem to be ignorant of the laws of war, one of which is that prisoners taken on the battlefield may only be handed over to another authority if there is no possibility that they be tortured.

Quaint, I know, as that prime crook Alberto Gonzalez would protest, but those are the laws.

If Canada could not guarantee that, it had to make provision for detention of prisoners in a secure facility of its own.

But this isn't new. Richard Colvin, a Canadian diplomat in Afghanistan, warned of this more than three years ago. Stephen Harper dismissed it as "Taliban propaganda".

I wrote about this in 2007, here and here.

One of the diplomat's concerns was that Canadian soldiers could be complicit in war crimes if they transferred prisoners and knew what would happen to them.

But that's the Stephen Harper way. Don't like the law? Just ignore it. After all, he's the king.

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