Languages
Page last updated at 04:48 GMT, Thursday, 19 November 2009

Canada hears of Afghan 'torture'

By Lee Carter
BBC News Toronto

A Canadian soldier keeps watch in Kandahar  (file pic: 2006)
The detainees were allegedly tortured after the Canadians handed them over

A senior Canadian diplomat has testified that many Afghan detainees captured by Canadian forces in 2006 and 2007 were likely to have been tortured.

Richard Colvin told a parliamentary committee in Ottawa that government bureaucrats had ignored his warnings.

He said the detainees were tortured by Afghan security officers after being transferred from Canadian custody.

But Conservative Party MPs on the committee were concerned he had spoken to just four alleged victims.

His testimony has raised serious allegations about Canada's role in the transfer of prisoners in Afghanistan.

'Beatings'

Mr Colvin wasted no time in making his central allegation to Canadian members of parliament.

He said that Afghan detainees transferred from the Canadian military base in Kandahar to the Afghan intelligence service had been tortured.

"The most common forms of torture were beatings, whippings with power cables and the use of electricity," he said.

Mr Colvin said that for 16 months, up to April 2007, the Canadian military in Kandahar had no monitoring system for keeping track of an Afghan detainee after he had left Canadian custody.

"Was he still in detention? Had he been released? Had he been transferred to a third party? Had he died under torture or been executed? We had no idea," he said.

Mr Colvin said he relied on what he called trusted sources for much of his information.

But he admitted that he had only spoken to four detainees himself.

That led to a scornful response on the committee by MPs from the governing Conservatives, who said that that fact alone discredited the intelligence officer's testimony.

The issue of torture has been raised publicly in both the United States and Britain in the past but never in Canada.

Mr Colvin said that he and his colleagues had tried to warn senior officials in Ottawa about the torture allegations.

But he said that he was ordered by Canadian foreign ministry officials to stop putting his concerns on paper.



Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Afghan blasts kill Canada troops
21 Mar 09 |  South Asia
Obama pledges Canada co-operation
20 Feb 09 |  Americas
Canada Afghan mission 'ends 2011'
11 Sep 08 |  Americas
Nato meets Canada's troop demands
03 Apr 08 |  Europe



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific