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Fate of transferred Afghan prisoners unknown: report

[JURIST] The whereabouts and fate of at least 40 prisoners captured by Canadian forces in and around Afghanistan [JURIST news archive] and later transferred to local or US authorities since the invasion of the country by US-led forces in 2001 is unknown, according to a Canadian newspaper report. Montreal's La Presse [media website] learned about the handovers of the uncharged detainees between 2002 and 2006 through Canadian government documents obtained under an access to information request [PDF]. The paper noted that more prisoners may have been caught and transferred since intense fighting flared back up in April between Canadian and insurgent forces.

In March, Canadian opposition politicians concerned about prisoner welfare were assured by Defense Minister Gordon O'Connor [official profile] that Ottawa had signed an agreement [text] with the Afghan government in Kabul allowing the transfer of captives in exchange for guaranteed humane treatment. The agreement did not, however, preclude any subsequent transfers of detainees to the United States. Canadian Defense Department spokesmen insist that Canada abides by the Geneva Conventions in regard to prisoner treatment. Canada currently has over 2000 troops in Afghanistan [DND backgrounder], and has lost 39 since beginning operations there in 2001. AFP has more. La Presse has local coverage [in French].

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