This morning at the MPCC, we heard from Lt-Col. Douglas Boot, the Provost Marshal at Canadian Expeditionary Force Command (CEFCOM) from August 2006 to July 2007. The Provost Marshal CEFCOM has technical command over all members of the Military Police in theatres of war.
* As readers of these posts will know, it is illegal to transfer a detainee if there is a substantial risk of torture by the receiving authority. According to Boot, the primary concern with respect to detainee handling was to simply ensure that Canadian forces didn’t directly engage in torture — nevermind the fact that Canada’s obligations to ensure that detainees in its custody are not abused require much more than that. While Lt-Col. Boot understood that transfer to torture is illegal, he did not seem to make the connection that investigations into allegations of Afghan torture were required to ensure that transfers were legal.
Lt-Col. Boot also engaged in a bit of denial of responsibility, stating that it was up to other government agencies, such as Correctional Services Canada or DFAIT, to keep an eye out for abuse in Afghan prisons. According to Boot: “My military policemen had more than enough to do with their own responsibilities. We didn’t need to go looking for work.” Of course, we here would say that the military police’s responsibilities included ensuring that Canadian soldiers weren’t engaging in illegal conduct when carrying out their orders.
One more witness this afternoon before the Commission breaks for the weekend — Maj. Martin Laflamme, Lt-Col. Boot’s successor as CEFCOM Provost Marshal.
* Correction: An earlier version of this post stated that Lt-Col. Boot appeared to be unaware of Canada’s international obligations with respect to detainee transfers. In fact, Lt-Col. Boot stated that he was aware that transfers to torture are illegal.