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Canada justice department moves to block public hearing on Afghan detainees

[JURIST] The Canadian Department of Justice [official website] has moved to block a Canadian Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC) [official website] public hearing investigating the country's military detainee transfer process in Afghanistan [JURIST news archive], the Globe and Mail reported Monday. The government filed papers in Canada's Federal Court [official website] Friday arguing that the MPCC lacks jurisdiction to conduct investigations into military operational decisions regarding detainee treatment, and that the Commission's reach is limited to military policing issues. MPCC Chairman Peter A. Tinsley said that the Commission is "surprised and disappointed" [MPCC press release] by the move, and questioned why jurisdiction was not challenged when the investigation was first launched last year.

The investigation began in February 2007 as Amnesty International Canada and the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association [advocacy websites] filed complaints against the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal [official website], alleging complicity in torture by Canadian personnel serving in Afghanistan as part of the NATO International Security Assistance Force [official website]. The MPCC opened its own investigation, and last month announced public hearings [JURIST report] to issue subpoenas and compel disclosure, saying that it was unable to complete its investigation because several departments in the Canadian government were refusing to hand over key information. The rights groups are currently appealing [JURIST report] a Federal Court ruling [PDF text] that the protections of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms [text] do not extend to Afghan detainees captured by Canadian soldiers. CBC News has more.

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