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Canada document includes US on list of states where prisoners risk torture

[JURIST] An internal document circulated to diplomats in the Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade [official website] lists the US as a country that employs interrogation methods that amount to torture and where prisoners risk being tortured, according to media reports Thursday. The document, originally provided to Amnesty International in a court case it filed over Canadian treatment of Afghan detainees [JURIST report], specifically mentions Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] as a detention facility that employs such methods and reports Canadian citizen Omar Khadr [JURIST news archive] as saying that he has been tortured while detained there. Other countries on the list provided to Canadian officials attending a training workshop include Afghanistan, China, Iran, Israel, and Syria. Reuters Thursday quoted a Canadian government spokesman as saying that the document was not an expression of official Canadian policy, but observers say it is nonetheless suggestive of views critical of the US within the country's foreign ministry.

Much controversy has surrounded acknowledged and suspected US interrogation techniques post-9/11, including waterboarding [JURIST news archive], which human rights advocates say amount to torture. In 2006, US President George W. Bush insisted that the US does not torture prisoners [JURIST report] when asked whether he agreed with a comment by Vice President Dick Cheney that a "dunk in the water" is a "no-brainer" when it comes to interrogating terror suspects. Earlier this month, US Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell [official profile] said in an article published in the New Yorker that waterboarding was torture as far as he was concerned [JURIST report]. The question of whether waterboarding is in fact illegal torture dogged now-Attorney General Michael Mukasey in his recent confirmation hearings, and he ultimately refused to take a definitive stand [JURIST report] on the matter. In December 2007, former CIA agent John Kiriakou confirmed the use of waterboarding [JURIST report] during interrogations of terror suspects. Reuters has more. CTV has additional coverage.

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