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Canada commission finds issues with accountability, communication in Afghan detainee treatment

The Canada Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC) [official website] on Wednesday announced [press release] that it would make recommendations to improve military police investigations based on its four-year investigation into allegations of misconduct in handling Afghan detainees. The MPCC investigation was launched in response to a complaint [JURIST report] filed in 2008 by several Canadian rights groups. The complaint alleged that Canadian military police were knowingly transferring detainees to facilities where they would be tortured. In its report, the MPCC said that there was not sufficient evidence to hold any of the alleged individual perpetrators personally responsible, but it did identify "serious problems regarding reporting, accountability and information sharing in the Military Police." In a statement, the MPCC said it made recommendations to improve the functioning of the MPCC and avoid future problems.

Complicity in torture has been at the center of controversy in Canada recently. In February, Canada Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) is authorized to use and pass on information obtained through torture [JURIST report] when Canadian lives are at stake. In November 2009, a former senior Canadian diplomat alleged that the Canadian military was complicit in the torture of Afghans [JURIST report] by their own government. Amnesty International Canada and the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association filed complaints in 2007 in Canadian federal court alleging complicity in torture by Canadian personnel serving in Afghanistan. Amnesty accused Canada of violating the Charter of Rights and Freedoms [text] by turning Afghan detainees over to Afghan authorities without any protection against later cruel and unusual punishment, but the court ruled Canadian law does not extend to prisoners detained in Afghanistan [JURIST report].

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