Friday, November 16, 2007

Globe Exposes Harper on Prisoner Abuse

The Harper government knew, and was utterly indifferent about captive abuse in Afghan prisons long before the story broke to the public in April of last year.

Amnesty International Canada and the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association had to drag the Harper government before a Federal Court judge to get them to turn over documents they were determined to keep secret. Documents including a Canadian correctional services inspector asking Ottawa for better boots because she was "walking through blood and fecal matter" when she inspected the prisons.

Blood? Fecal matter? What kind of prisons show off that sort of thing to international inspectors? Even a neo-con Tory can figure that out.

From The Globe & Mail:

Another report noted that the warden of the main prison in Kandahar, where many prisoners handed over by Canadians soldiers were held, had been fired after charges that he raped juvenile detainees. Cosmetics and hashish were found in his office. He was exonerated because an Afghan military judge said it was "impossible for a drunken man in his 50s to commit an act of rape," reported a Canadian official in a cable to Ottawa.

At one Kandahar secret police prison, all inmates are shackled in leg irons around the clock. Some have been kept that way for more than a year.

...since May, after the government hastily arranged follow-up inspections in the wake of news reports, a different, but equally disturbing picture, emerges.

It is of scores of disappeared detainees, of strong evidence of torture and abuse continuing despite the inspections and of a frantic effort, in the first few days after the stories appeared last April, to paint a far rosier picture than documented in secret diplomatic cables.

Harper and his gang knew about it, they tried to conceal it and, when it came out they tried to mislead the Canadian public about it. In stubbornly continuing to consign detainees to this treatment, they were knowingly making Canada a party to it.

Even if the Conservative pols were willing to bury the truth, surely we could have expected our top military leaders to preserve the honour of the armed forces by bringing this out. They seem to have gone American too.


Oldschool said...

Kind of reminds you of the great "flushed Korans" fiasco in the US prison . . . where there were no toilets!!!
Personally . . . these Taliban folks, who would remove your head in a heartbeat if given the chance, seem to be disliked immensely by their countrymen . . .
Are you suggesting we should move them to Matsqui Prison and treat them like drunk drivers?

Fish said...

Totally disgusting.

Oldschool, if we are going to gain the moral high ground in this war, we cannot allow this kind of treatment. Yes, the taliban would not hesitat to treat canadian soldiers and civilians much worse, but then, they are the bad guys.

Still, a valid point is raised, what should we do with the Afghan prisoners? Establish our own prison camps in Afghanistan? bring them here? Let the Americans have their way with them in Guantanamo? It seems that we are caught in the bind of whether to compromise our values, or to invest more resources into the conflict. There is also the position of the Afghan government to consider, we can't just export Afghan citizens without some kind of agreement.

The Mound of Sound said...

Fish, there's no sense responding to the rantings of Preschool. You're right, what do we do with our detainees? It seems to me we either hand them over to meet their fate or we don't. If we don't we have to find some alternative means of interrogating them and, where necessary, imprisoning them. It'd be hard and expensive and inconvenient but those burdens cannot excuse being party to torture. It also begs the larger question of what we are to do with this hapless Karzai government and its nexus to the country's warlords and drug lords. We don't seem to be answering any of the problems associated with the new Afghanistan.

The Mound of Sound said...

By the way, Fish, maybe we need to go back in time and adopt the same measures we used in Korea. There we did indeed maintain internment camps that housed many thousands of captured North Korean and Chinese prisoners. We did not entrust them to the South Koreans. We knew what that would mean. How did this suddenly become an unbearable obligation?