It would appear Canada isn’t alone in the Afghan detainee scandal.
Allegations first surfaced in November 2007, by Amnesty International (same time Canada first heard their allegations of torture) and brought to the courts by British anti-war activist, Maya Evans has made the accusations and is seeking a judicial review of the detainee transfer policy.
Ministry of Defence has passed some ‘evidence’ to her lawyers; a heavily redacted document outlining the case (sound familiar?). It appears that they want it suppressed. However, there is somewhat more evidence available in the British case and little cooperation.
Following one long excised passage, the document revealed in court today reads: “The lessons from these shocking events is … investigation by the NDS [Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security] is obviously incapable of providing any satisfaction of the UK’s human rights obligations.”
Public Interest Lawyers, the solicitors’ firm representing Evans, say the “horrific brutality” of the NDS was well documented.
They say they have gathered details of nine cases involving allegations of beatings, electrocution, sleep deprivation, individuals forced into stress positions and whipping with rubber cables.
Michael Fordham QC, for Evans, told the court: “The issue in this anxious case is whether the practice of handing over of suspect insurgents to the NDS is compatible with Article 3.”
He told Lord Justice Richards and Mr Justice Cranston: “We will submit emphatically that it is not. It never was.” Article 3 of the European Humans Rights Convention prohibits torture, and inhuman and or degrading treatment.
The MoD initially described Evans’ legal challenge to the British practice of handing over detainees to the NDS as “totally misconceived”, the high court was told.
However, after allegations came to light about ill-treatment at NDS facilities in Kandahar, Kabul, and Sangin, in Helmand province, there was a “change of direction”.
The ministry “finally acknowledged that there were serious issues” involved and agreed to a judicial review, a court challenge to the practice, Fordham said.
Here’s how their debacle got started; almost a copy cat of Canada. They too, signed a very flawed detainee transfer agreement with the Afghans in 2006. Like Canada’s, this agreement was pretty much based on trust.
From what I have read so far, it sounds like their looking into the torturegate matter is going along faster than here in Canada where Brother Steve still refuses to cooperate. Will this trend in Britain continue? Hard to say if Gordon Brown’s government will cooperate. A federal election has already been called and all are in full campaign mode. Expect more to come from this situation as the campaigns edge closer to British election day.
What is happening in Britain should concern Canada, the British and Canadian circumstances are very similar and the time line is about the same.
The British case could yield evidence about Canada’s practices. If this case continues to reveal more evidence, this will most definitely also be ready made evidence against Canada. Yes, Brother Steve, looks like this will come back and bite you on the ass down the road. Better change your tune!
Tomorrow, they are back in court.
UPDATE: Remember they were going to court today? Well, here’s what happened:
The court Tuesday heard of documentation, drawn from military files, relating to six known cases in which Afghan captives handed by British forces to the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) prisons, including one in Canada’s military jurisdiction in Kandahar, are said to have been tortured using electric shocks, beatings with wires, whips and metal rods, sleep deprivation and cuts, between early 2007 and late 2008.
While it appears many of the documents submitted to the court today were redacted at the government’s request, the censorship is not as heavy as that applied to Canadian documents released by Ottawa and most details other than proper names are unconcealed. Wow! This actually means their investigation is actually going somewhere. Why is it that their torturegate is being played out in the courts and ours’ isn’t? Well, unfortunately, unlike Canada, the British military must follow domestic human-rights laws, which require safe treatment of prisoners in foreign countries. That explains why Brother Steve has been able to run away from this to date.
However, I think it’s worth it for us to pay more attention to what’s happening in Britain these days, the more I read, the more I see this mirrors Canada’s situation. Their case is being expedited faster. Plus, as I mentioned above, a federal election has been called and Gordon Brown and his Labour Party as well as the other parties are in full campaign swing. Not sure how down and dirty the tactics used by opposition parties to attempt to knock over the incumbent, but something tells me the opposition would be motivated to find more skeleton’s in Labour’s closet. Never know what can turn up during an election campaign.
If a smoking gun in Britain is found sooner than later, and at the rate it’s going, count on this to unfold long before Canada, me thinks Brother Steve will really be backed into a corner.
Also, I wonder if British citizens would be more concerned about breaking international laws than many Canadians seem to be? I wonder how a British columnist would feel if they heard the likes of Blathering Blatchford on talk radio, saying, ‘you can’t have a proper war without some torture’ (paraphrased, of course)? How would a British citizen react to the pro-torture rantings of the likes of co-Blogging Romper roomie founder, Craig Smith? Something tells me that human rights and the rule of law would be more important to them than to many of the Harpercon Cheerleaders and certainly, more important than it is to the so-called ‘law & order’ Harpercons and Brother Steve.