This morning, former DFAIT official Nicholas Gosselin testified before the MPCC. Mr. Gosselin was the DFAIT human rights officer in Afghanistan who discovered implements of torture in an Afghan prison in late 2007. His discovery, combined with other reports of detainee abuse and torture at the hands of Afghan authorities, prompted Ottawa to briefly halt detainee transfers in November 2007.
This morning, we heard for the first time that there were eight more complaints of detainee abuse in the months that followed the suspension of transfers. According to Mr. Gosselin, he had collected these allegations from January to June 2008 and reported them, though these reports have not been disclosed to the MPCC. Taken at face value, Mr. Gosselin’s testimony calls into question how transfers could have been resumed at all, given that conditions in Afghan prisons showed no discernable improvement from the period leading up to the 2007 suspension of transfers.
In other developments today, the Department of Justice revealed late last night that it had additional documents relating to Gabrielle Duschner (scheduled to testify today) which it has yet to provide the MPCC. That Ms. Duschner is to be a witness before the Commission has been well-known for some time, of course, so it’s unclear why it took the DOJ until literally the eve of her testimony to inform the Commission that there are additional relevant documents down the pipe. The Commission has decided that it will postpone Ms. Duschner’s appearance until after Commission Counsel has had the benefit of reviewing these new materials.
Meanwhile, over at the Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan at the House of Commons, two witnesses are scheduled to testify this afternoon (3.30p EST).
The first is Eileen Olexiuk, a former diplomat who warned the federal government about the potential for detainee abuse in Afghanistan. She opened the Canadian Embassy in Kabul and served as its second in command during her three-year tenure in Afghanistan. The second is an interpreter who was present during detainee handovers in Afghanistan.
It looks to be an interesting afternoon in Parliament, and we’ll bring you an update on the testimony later today.