Afghan Prisoners were Tortured - Senior Diplomat Testifies
Richard Colvin, a Senior Canadian Diplomat, presently employed in Washington, DC, testified in front of a Parliamentary Comnmittee investigating allegations of Afghan prisoner abuse. The prisoners in question, were those captured by Candian Forces and then handed over to Afghan authorities.
Colvin gave a short introduction presenting his credentials, which included working in Russia and his previous post as the senior diplomat in Kandahar. He was the number two diplomat in Kabul's Canadian Embassy.
Colvin stated that the Canadian Forces as a whole were very professional and that troops were doing what they were asked to do. He alleges that the problem was with the senior leadership of the Canadian Forces and he specifically named General Rick Hillier.
He alleges that almost every prisoner handed over to the Afghans r was abused by Afghan authorities. The most common tools used were beatings with electric wires, electrification and sleep deprivation.
He alleges that after notifying senior officials in both the Department of Foreign Affairs and National Defence, nothing happened for almost 18 months.
The Canadian Government and, in fact, General Rick Hillier claims as soon as they became aware of the problem they changed the system and started to monitor prisoners handed over to Afghans by Canadian Military personnel.
It should be noted handing over prisoners to Afghan is a common practice by all NATO forces.
According to Colvin, the problem was how reporting took place. For example when the UK or Dutch Forces handed over troops they notified the IRC located in Kabul.
Canadians notified Ottawa, which then contacted the IRC in Geneva, which in turn took up to two months before it trickled down to the IRC in Kabul. Needless to say prisoners could, in many cases, no longer be located. Record Keeping was also a major problem with Canadian Forces and it was hard to track down Afghan prisoners.
Colvin maintains that, in many cases, these were people taken from Afghan villages or day fighters and that operational security should not have been impacted due the disclosure of their capture.
General Hillier maintained in statements earlier that disclosing even the number of Afghans captured would have compromised their safety, even if only numbers had been reported.
The Committee is expected to continue its investigation on Wednesday. Witnesses expected to testify on Wednesday are Lieutenant-General Gauthier and Major-General David Fraser. It is not known at this time if General Rick Hillier will testify.
Afghanistan's intelligence service tortured every detainee handed over to them by Canadian soldiers in 2006-2007, a federal official testified today.
Intelligence officer Richard Colvin, who was the political officer at the Canadian-run provincial reconstruction base when Canadian troops began transferring prisoners to Afghan authorities three years ago, told a special Commons committee that many of those prisoners were also likely innocent.
"According to our information, the likelihood is that all the Afghans we handed over were tortured," he said.
"For interrogators in Kandahar, it was standard operating procedure."
According to Colvin, Afghans detained by Canadian troops and then transferred to Afghan custody in 2006 and early 2007 were beaten and suffered electric shocks.
Over a three-month period in 2006, the Red Cross tried to warn Canadian military officials in Kandahar about the abuse, but no one would "even take their phone calls," Colvin said.
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