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Government Ceases Afghan Detainee Transfers

The Government of Canada has informed the BC Civil Liberties Association and Amnesty International Canada that it has ordered the Canadian Forces to cease all transfers of detainees into Afghan custody due to allegations of torture, effective November 5, 2007. The Government kept this decision a secret until now.

“The Government’s decision amounts to a concession that the May 2007 Monitoring Agreement has failed to prevent torture by Afghan authorities,” said Jason Gratl, president of the BCCLA. “It is unfortunate that the Government has chosen, yet again, to reveal new developments on detainees only when an injunction hearing is pending. The Canadian public has a right to know this information and shouldn’t be hearing about it only because the government is being sued.”

“The government could have anticipated at the outset that monitoring of detainees is inadequate to deal with the risk of torture. The torture of detainees that occurred since May 3, 2007 was both predictable and avoidable,” said Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada.

Amnesty and BCCLA’s injunction application, set for January 24, 2008, will proceed because the Canadian Government has refused to stop transfers indefinitely or agree to give notice to the organizations when detainee transfers will resume. In light of the new information, Federal Court Justice Anne Mactavish has ordered Brigadier General Joseph Paul Andre Deschamps to appear tomorrow and give testimony before arguments begin.

The application to determine whether the Charter of Rights and Freedoms binds Canadian Forces operating abroad to refrain from transferring prisoners of war to face a significant risk of torture continues to be set for January 25, 2008. Both motions will take place at 9:30 am in the Supreme Court of Canada building in Ottawa.