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Commission hears final submissions on transfers to torture

    February 01, 2011

    On Wednesday, February 2, 2011, lawyers for Amnesty International Canada and the B.C. Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) will present their final submissions before the Military Police Complaints Commission. In 2008, the Commission launched the Afghanistan Public Interest Hearing to investigate the role of military police officers in the transfers of prisoners captured by Canadian Forces to risk of torture by Afghan security forces.

    The evidence presented to the Commission over the course of these hearings has been disturbing, and paints a troubling picture of abdication of responsibility by senior members of the military police and startling lack of concern across government agencies for the fate of prisoners captured by Canadian Forces.

    “At the core, these hearings have been about the universal imperative to respect and uphold fundamental human rights,” says Alex Neve, Secretary-General of Amnesty. “Torture is the ultimate denial of human rights. Police, including military police, play a critical role in ensuring that ongoing violations of fundamental human rights such as torture are stopped and that future violations are deterred. Canada’s commitment to eliminating torture means that military police officers must investigate potential violations of the binding international prohibition of torture.”

    At issue in these hearings is whether the subjects – senior members of the Canadian Forces military police in Canada and Afghanistan – failed to fulfill their duty to investigate potential violations of international, domestic, and military law arising from the CF Commander in Afghanistan’s orders to transfer detainees to the Afghan secret police. In their submissions, Amnesty and the BCCLA argue that the subjects all failed to adequately investigate these orders, and in some cases, did not even turn their minds to the risk of torture faced by CF-transferred detainees.

    “All of these senior military police had sufficient information to suspect that individuals were being transferred by the Canadian Forces to a serious risk of torture,” says BCCLA Litigation Director Grace Pastine. “They should have known that such conduct could give rise to criminal and service offences. Yet even in face of compelling reports of torture and a clear military directive underscoring the necessity of military police diligence, not a single one of the subjects investigated the transfers in a competent or impartial manner. This was a gross breach of the professional standards by which Canadians expect military police to carry out their duties.”

    John Tackaberry,
    Media Relations,
    Amnesty International Canada
    613-744-7667, ext 236

    Grace Pastine,
    BCCLA Litigation Director