Ottawa knew of alternative prison transfer proposal – Memo shows government was briefed on NATO campaign to create stronger safeguards for detainees
By STEVEN CHASE
OTTAWA — The Harper government has always insisted it heard no warnings of torture risks facing Afghan detainees in 2006, but documents show that in the same year it was carefully following a NATO campaign to take responsibility for captured prisoners away from the country’s notorious intelligence service.
A memo obtained by The Globe and Mail shows that in 2006 the federal government was briefed on a lobbying campaign by NATO allies aimed at getting the Kabul government to create stronger safeguards for detainees after prisoner abuses elsewhere.
“London, The Hague and Canberra [Australia] are deeply concerned about the absence of solid legal protections for detainees, which – in the age of Gitmo and Abu Ghraib – imperils domestic support for the Afghanistan mission,” said the memo of Dec. 4, 2006, written by diplomat Richard Colvin.
The memo was written after consultation with Catherine Bloodworth, a Foreign Affairs colleague, as well as the military attaché in Canada’s Kabul embassy. It was approved by David Sproule – then Canada’s ambassador to Afghanistan – and was e-mailed to dozens of officials at Foreign Affairs, the Privy Council Office and National Defence.
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