"In no circumstances shall a protected person be transferred to a country where he or she may have reason to fear persecution for his or her political opinions or religious beliefs."
Article 45 of the Geneva Convention
Canadian officials have vehemently denied knowing that some Afghan prisoners transfered to the ANP (Afghan National Police) risk being beaten, tortured or executed since a story broke in 2007 about alleged prisoner abuse.
Peter McKay, Canada's Minister of Defense, has been quoted time and time again saying that there has not been a single documented case of torture following a transfer of prisoners to the ANP. Even as late as last month he said:
“Not a single Taliban prisoner turned over by Canadian Forces can be proven to have been abused. That is the crux of the issue.” (Halifax on Nov. 22)
But that was last month, before sworn a sworn affidavit from Colonel Steve Noonan (from 2007) was published and before corroborating testimony from Brigadier-General Joseph Deschamps and before field notes from a master-corporal also confirmed an incident. Is McKay changing his tune?
“He has said what he has said based on the advice of generals and senior officials in the department.” (Dan Dugas, spokesman for Mr McKay yesterday)
Both Canada and Afghanistan a signatories of the Geneva convention and as such should obey it to the letter. Don't get me wrong, I have no love for the Taliban, but the bottom line is that Canada is supposed to lead by example. How can we win the people of Afghanistan over when we let things like this happen. Not to mention our image on the world stage, when our Minister of Defense is out there flat out denying things and contradicting some of our most trusted military commanders?
How can Canada accuse other countries of assaults on Human Rights and mistreatment of their citizens and prisoners if we cannot guarantee that those in our custody will not be mistreated.
McKay needs to man up and face the music, no matter how unpleasant the tune may be, because this whole affair is a major blemish on Canada's reputation abroad and leaves a sour taste in all of our mouths.