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Transfer of detainees to Afghanistan raises difficult issues
Description: The issue of detainees captured by Canadian troops is back in the news. Here are some key issues.
Date: 13 March 2007
Author: Bruce Campion-Smith
Source: Toronto Star
The issue of detainees captured by Canadian troops is back in the news. Here are some key issues:

Q Who are these prisoners?

A They could be suspected insurgents, Taliban organizers, even local troublemakers wanted for questioning by Canadian Forces and Afghan officials. Handled first by Canadian military police officers, they are handed over to Afghan authorities. Canada then notifies the International Committee of the Red Cross of the transfer.

According to the military, the federal government "supports the principle that Afghan authorities have the responsibility for handling detainees captured in their sovereign country."

Q So what is the problem?

A Human rights groups have complained of widespread abuses in Afghan prisons. "There clearly is torture and ill-treatment rampant," said Alex Neve, general secretary of Amnesty International Canada.

The latest assessment from the U.S. State Department warns that Afghan prisons are "decrepit, severely overcrowded, and unsanitary" and that local authorities "routinely torture and abuse detainees."

Q Why should Canadians care?

A The Canadian military has insisted it treats prisoners "humanely and appropriately." But in transferring prisoners to Afghan authorities, Canada opens itself to the accusation that it could be aiding and abetting human rights abuses.

Click here to read the full article featuring Michael Byers.

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