Monday, April 14, 2008

Ottawa moves to block hearing on detainees

This is from the Star. A good way to avoid all this trouble and to support our troops would be to just get out of Afghanistan right now. NATO can and should go fly a kite. If they want a free Afghanistan with legal kite flying let them do it without Canadian help. Or maybe we could do our part and send them free kites. It would be a lot cheaper and involve not wasting Canadian lives.
Perhaps the Harper government is trying to get the Canadian public used to contradictory policy by saying one thing one day and contradicting it next day. Maybe this is a trial baloon for reversing the decision on the sale of MDA to Alliant technology!

Ottawa moves to block hearing on detainees - Canada - Ottawa moves to block hearing on detainees

Goes to court to halt Afghan prisoner probe

April 14, 2008
Richard Brennan
Ottawa Bureau

OTTAWA–The Conservative government is attempting to block an investigation by the military police watchdog into the treatment of Afghan detainees, despite an earlier promise to co-operate.

The government quietly filed a notice of judicial review on Friday in Federal Court to stop a planned public hearing by the Military Police Complaints Commission into the alleged abuse of detainees in Afghanistan.

The chair of the complaints commission ordered the hearing just last month. Peter A. Tinsley said at the time that his own investigation on the issue had encountered government stonewalling. By calling a public hearing, his commission could subpoena witnesses and government information, giving the hearing more clout.

The $2 million public hearing, due to start next month, was to focus on allegations that members of the Canadian Forces military police sent at least 18 detainees to Afghan prisons, knowing the prisoners faced a risk of torture.

Officials are trying to avoid scrutiny, said Ottawa lawyer Paul Champ, representing Amnesty International Canada and the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association. The two human rights organizations filed a complaint with Tinsley's commission more than a year ago over the military police practice of transferring prisoners.

In the motion filed Friday, the government argues the complaints commission does not have jurisdiction to investigate the matter.

The motion states that handling of detainees is "not subject" to oversight by the military police complaints process.

"The National Defence Act empowers the Canadian Forces Provost and Military Police Complaints Commission to investigate only conduct complaints related to the performance of policing duties and functions," the motion states.

This flies in the face of last month's commitment to the Commons by Defence Minister Peter MacKay, who said the commission "will get the co-operation with respect both to information disclosures and the funding necessary to have a full-blown hearing if this is the direction in which it intends to go."

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