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Military urged to keep track of Afghan detainees
Description: They caused a stir on Parliament Hill, sparked two formal military probes and had the country's top general on the defensive about the conduct of his troops in Kandahar. But the identity of the three Afghan men who may have been mistr
Date: 09 February 2007
Author: Bruce Campion-Smith
Source: Toronto Star
OTTAWA–They caused a stir on Parliament Hill, sparked two formal military probes and had the country's top general on the defensive about the conduct of his troops in Kandahar.

But the identity of the three Afghan men who may have been mistreated by Canadian soldiers, their conditions and whereabouts all remained a mystery this week.

They have vanished into the world of Afghan justice, where torture is common and prison conditions are "deplorable," according to human-rights groups.

And for Michael Byers, that fact is just as troubling as the suggestion that the men may have been abused while in Canadian custody.

"I think it's appalling that we have no idea where these men now are and that no efforts have been made up to this point to verify their well-being," says Byers, a professor at the University of British Columbia and a long-time critic of Canada's detainee policies.

"If they had been beaten in Canadian custody and bore the marks of that beating, that may have increased their risks once they reached Afghan authorities of further abuse," he says.

"I think, among other things, it's exposed the more general problems with our detainee handling system."

Canadian troops, who nab "many detainees," according to one officer, hand them over to Afghan authorities, inform the International Red Cross and absolve themselves of any further responsibility. Unlike the Dutch, who are also in Afghanistan, Canada has no right to make follow-up visits to check the well-being of detainees it has transferred.

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