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Last Updated: Saturday, 19 January 2008, 22:24 GMT
Canada FM regrets 'torture list'
Maxime Bernier (6 October 2007)
Mr Bernier said he regretted the embarrassment the manual caused
The Canadian foreign minister has apologised for including the US and Israel on a list of states where prisoners are at risk of torture.

Maxime Bernier said the list, which formed part of a manual on torture awareness given to diplomats, "wrongly includes some of our closest allies".

Mr Bernier insisted the manual was not a policy document and did not convey the official views of his government.

The listing was criticised by the US and Israel, who demanded it be changed.

"We find it to be offensive for us to be on the same list with countries like Iran and China. Quite frankly it's absurd," said the US ambassador to Canada, David Wilkins.

A spokesman for the Israeli embassy in Ottawa, Michael Mendel, said the Israeli Supreme Court was "on record as expressly prohibiting any type of torture".

"If Israel is included in the list in question, the ambassador of Israel would expect its removal," he added.

'Reviewed and rewritten'

In a statement on Saturday, Mr Bernier said he regretted the embarrassment caused by the public disclosure of the list and promised it would be changed to reflect the Canadian government's official position.

The manual is neither a policy document nor a statement of policy - it does not convey the government's views or positions
Maxime Bernier
Canadian foreign minister

"It contains a list that wrongly includes some of our closest allies. I have directed that the manual be reviewed and rewritten," he said.

"The manual is neither a policy document nor a statement of policy. As such, it does not convey the government's views or positions."

The manual lists US interrogation techniques such as forced nudity, isolation, sleep deprivation and the blindfolding of prisoners under its "definition of torture".

It also refers to the US detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, where a Canadian man, Omar Khadr, is being held. Critics say it ridicules Ottawa's claims that he is not being mistreated.

Member of US military in cell block of Guantanamo Bay prison camp
The manual refers to Guantanamo Bay where a Canadian is being held

Other countries on the watch list include Afghanistan, China, Iran, Israel, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Syria.

The document was mistakenly provided to the human rights group, Amnesty International, as part of a court case it is bringing against the Canadian government over the treatment of detainees in Afghanistan.

The torture awareness course was introduced after Ottawa was strongly criticised for its handling of the case of a Canadian who was deported from the US to Syria in 2002.

Syrian-born Maher Arar, who was accused of being an al-Qaeda member, has said he was tortured during the 10 months he was detained in a prison in Damascus. An inquiry exonerated him of any links to terrorist groups in 2006.

SEE ALSO
Canada puts US on 'torture list'
18 Jan 08 |  Americas
Water-boarding as torture - or not
11 Dec 07 |  Americas
US lawmakers' apology to Canadian
19 Oct 07 |  Americas
Canada signs Afghan detainee deal
04 May 07 |  South Asia

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