British Columbia insight: Decorated War Vet says inquiry needed to resolve Afghan Torture Charges
by John McNamer
Through news reports we daily become more painfully aware of the probable torture of detainees turned over to Afghan authorities by Canadian Forces, and of the dismal failure of the government to ensure Canada is fulfilling its legal obligations in Afghanistan. In light of this I respectfully submit the following question: If international and Canadian law requires that detainees not be turned over to another authority without Canada ensuring there is full compliance with Geneva Conventions, why is no one asking for an accounting of the fate of detainees turned over to U.S. authorities before the Afghan agreement was put in place relatively recently?
I would remind you of the many credible documentations of systematic illegal abuses by U.S. and Coalition forces, including so-called CIA "black prisons" in Afghanistan in which torture (and torture to the point of death) has occurred, and also the wide scale illegal "rendition" of detainees from Afghanistan to other countries (and to prisons in Afghanistan from other countries) for torture and illegal detainment in a truly horrific process with no accountability to any legal authority. I personally documented credible public reports of such violations in a research brief for Lawyers Against the War (LAW) that was sent to the Prime Minister and all MPs nearly two years ago, so I know for a fact that the government has long been aware of the need for concern on these matters!
The single most important question that needs to be asked now is this: Just how many individuals have Canadian Forces illegally sent to their torture and possible death at the hands of other authorities since the original invasion of Afghanistan by U.S. Coalition forces? And, has anyone even been keeping track, as required by the Conventions?
I would humbly suggest that a full public inquiry is in order to determine how it came to pass that Canada became complicit in this apparent large scale violation of Geneva Conventions, as the government is quite transparent in its lack of integrity on these matters and not to be trusted. Perhaps we could all hasten such a process by beginning to put the above questions to the right people? Our local MP would be a good start, for as our elected representative in Parliament, he or she is -- I believe -- ethically bound to take all measures necessary to ensure this government is obeying the rule of law.
About the writer:
John McNamer, 60, immigrated with his family to Canada from the U.S. in 1987. He has a B.A. in political science & history, has worked as a professional journalist, and regularly writes and comments on peace and justice issues. McNamer is a member of Lawyers Against the War (LAW), a group of lawyers and others in 16 countries that advocates for adherence to international and national humanitarian and human rights law and against impunity for offenders. He can be contacted at email, LINK and LAW's website is found at www.lawyersagainstthewar.org.
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