Sunday, December 20, 2009

Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin replies to critics

The detailed information that Colvin gives is in contrast to the rhetorical and insulting garbage thrown at him by the likes of Peter McKay. Although Hellier has joined the garbage throwing crew, Natynczyk has at least been professional about all of this.

Colvin fires back at critics in military and government

Diplomat's 16-page rebuttal accuses Ottawa of dragging its feet, losing track of detainees in covert jails
OTTAWA — From Thursday's Globe and Mail

.The Canadian government lost track of some detainees transferred to Afghan interrogators in 2007 because captives were shipped to covert "black site" jails - beyond the reach of Ottawa's efforts to monitor them for signs of torture, diplomat Richard Colvin says.

This fresh revelation came as the foreign service officer fired back at critics in the military and government establishment who have dismissed his testimony alleging Canada turned a blind eye to the torture of suspects after they were handed over to Afghan authorities.

In a 16-page, point-by-point rebuttal sent to the Commons committee probing detainee transfers, Mr. Colvin depicts Ottawa as only grudgingly agreeing - in the face of public pressure - to monitor prisoners as a means of discouraging their torture.

Even after May of 2007, when Canada put in place new safeguards to make Afghans more accountable for the suspects that they took from Canadian soldiers - some detainees simply disappeared from the radar.

Mr. Colvin, a former staff member in Canada's Afghan embassy, writes that he spent months trying to learn the fates of three suspects handed over to Afghanistan's notorious intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security (NDS).

"According to good sources, they were likely in Kabul, but at an NDS 'black site' to which we were not given access," Mr. Colvin writes, noting that these unofficial jails "permit interrogation of detainees without interference from human rights monitors."

The diplomat's disclosure demonstrates the limits of Canada's much-touted 2007 agreement to safeguard prisoners that Canadian soldiers handed off to Afghans.

The Geneva Conventions make it a war crime to transfer prisoners to those who would abuse them.

If detaining powers believe captives being transferred are abused, they're supposed to ameliorate the situation or take them back.

There are a number of "black site" - off-the-book - detention centres in Kabul, the Afghanistan capital, facilities to which the Canadian government has had trouble gaining access.

In yesterday's rebuttal, Mr. Colvin marshals more evidence for his allegation that Ottawa had ample official warnings in 2006 of problems with the handling of Afghan prisoners.

He lists six reports that year from Canada's embassy in Kabul, including one that says "torture" is rife in Afghan jails, as are "extrajudicial executions and disappearances." A Dec. 4, 2006, embassy report noted allies' concern that detainees may "vanish from sight" after transfer - as well as the risk they would be "tortured."

No comments: