Faithful readers of the BCCLA National Security Blog will know that we first kicked things off here in December 2009 with our post on Richard Colvin’s documents, which warned senior Canadian officials that prisoners being captured in Afghanistan by Canadian Forces were at serious risk of being tortured when our troops handed them over to the Afghan secret police.
Since then, we’ve reported to you about the ongoing Parliamentary inquiry into detainee transfers and our work at the Afghan Public Interest Hearings at the Military Police Complaints Commission. Today, the BCCLA and Amnesty International Canada filed its final written submissions with the MPCC, and are now preparing for oral argument in Ottawa next week.
The MPCC’s jurisdiction is narrow — it can only look into the conduct of members of the Military Police. The decisions undertaken by other key actors — such as the Chief of Defence Staff, the Minister of National Defence, or members of DFAIT (Canada’s foreign affairs agency) — which allowed for detainee transfers to continue despite documented risk of torture are very unlikely to be reviewed here, which is why a public inquiry is so necessary. Nonetheless, the work of the MPCC is a vital first step towards accountability and ensuring that Canada maintains its human rights commitments.
The men and women of Canada’s military sacrifice and serve to protect Canada and its values. Maintaining fidelity to the laws of war and international human rights law is essential to the reputation of our armed forces and is crucial for ensuring the humane treatment of our own troops when captured. Its essential for protecting the core values of what the military is fighting for.
Check back next week for our update on oral arguments. In the meantime, here are our written submissions.