POLITICS

Afghan Detainee Report In MacKay's Hands

12/22/2011 01:38 EST | Updated 02/21/2012 05:12 EST
CP

The interim report on allegations that members of the military police failed to investigate Canadian Forces in Afghanistan over the transfer of detainees has been passed on to Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Chief of Defence Staff Walt Natynczyk.

The Military Police Complaints Commission is handling the complaint from Amnesty International Canada and the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association that senior officials in the military police failed to investigate the transfer of detainees to Afghan authorities in the face of a known risk of torture.

The interim report contains findings and recommendations and won't be made public. It was sent Wednesday to MacKay, Natynczyk, the office of the judge advocate general and the Canadian Forces provost marshal.

The commission, an independent body that provides civilian oversight for the military police, now waits for national defence leadership to review the interim report and to respond with "any action that has been or will be taken with respect to the complaint," said a news release Thursday.

Once that notice of action is given back, the complaints commission will write its final report, which will be made public.

This case has been dragging on for years and has been fraught with legal battles.

Amnesty International and the BC Civil Liberties Association first filed complaints to the commission in 2007, prompting a series of public hearings on the role of Canada's military police officers in the transfers of prisoners captured by Canadian Forces to Afghan authorities.

The groups allege that senior members of the Canadian Forces military police unit in Canada and Afghanistan failed to investigate potential violations of international, domestic, and military law arising from the orders for Canadian Forces to transfer detainees to Afghan police.

Hearings triggered a legal challenge

Amnesty International and the BC civil liberties association argued there was a failure to adequately investigate the orders, and to consider the risk of torture faced by detainees transferred by Canada.

They said senior officials had sufficient information to suspect detainees were at risk of being tortured yet they did not investigate the transfers.

The hearings triggered a legal challenge by the federal government and Federal Court ruled in favour of the commission saying it did have jurisdiction to look into allegations of failure to investigate the torture allegations and the hearings proceeded.

There were also arguments over the production of documents that for a time ground proceedings to a halt. Opposition parties tried to force the Conservatives in 2009 to produce documents and the battle ended up being a subjet of a breach of privilege ruling by the House of Commons Speaker at the time, Peter Milliken in April 2010. He ordered the parties to work together to review the documents, a process that was also fraught with controversy.

Final hearings at the commission wrapped up in February.

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