Canadian generals dismiss torture allegations

Last Updated: Thursday, November 26, 2009 - 11:18

Ottawa: Three generals testifying in Parliament dismissed allegations that Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan tortured prisoners. They rejected accusations from Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin, who was formerly stationed in Afghanistan and told lawmakers last week that Canadian forces "detained, and handed over for severe torture, a lot of innocent people."
Retired general Rick Hillier, the former head of the Canadian military, dismissed the charges as "ludicrous”, and said that Colvin`s information was poorly sourced.

Generals Michel Gauthier and David Fraser, both of whom headed Canadian forces in Afghanistan, told members of Parliament that they had not seen reports of prisoners being tortured.

The Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper has stood firm in the face of the withering attacks, rejecting a public inquiry into the charges.

Colvin worked for Canada`s Foreign Affairs department in Kandahar in 2006 and was later promoted to second-in-command at the embassy in Kabul until late 2007.

In both jobs, he visited detainees transferred by Canadian soldiers to Afghan prisons and reported his findings to Ottawa.

He claimed the warnings, first delivered in spring 2006, were ignored by senior military commanders and government officials, until prisoner mistreatment allegations were reported in the media a year later.

Colvin said he was eventually told to stop putting his reports into writing.

The Canadian government, which has some 2,800 troops in southeastern Afghanistan, has denied there is any firm evidence that detainees transferred by its officials were tortured.

Bureau Report

First Published: Thursday, November 26, 2009 - 11:18

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