Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is being asked to reconsider his government’s decision not to hold an inquiry into the treatment of Afghan detainees even as the International Criminal Court prepares to conduct its own investigation.
In June, the government rejected an e-petition calling for a judicial inquiry into how the Canadian military treated prisoners in Afghanistan.
|A suspected Taliban prisoner is searched, handcuffed, and processed by Canadian soldiers after a raid on a compound in Northern Kandahar, in 2006.|
Human rights activists, diplomats, current and former parliamentarians, including former prime minister Joe Clark, have also written an open letter to the prime minister, demanding a full investigation of the Canadian military’s transfer of prisoners to Afghan officials during the war.
“There’s been no response from the prime minister at all to any of these requests,” Scott said Tuesday. “It’s clear his government wants to do everything it can do to bury this issue.”
Canada’s activities could be put in the spotlight if the ICC goes ahead with its probe into how U.S. troops, Afghan soldiers and the Taliban acted on the battlefield.
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Foreign Policy magazine, a U.S.-based publication, reported Tuesday the court is preparing to investigate allegations of crimes against humanity and war crimes in Afghanistan.
Scott said the ICC could ask for evidence from Canadian sources and well as examining what Canadian officials knew about any abuse or torture.
Trudeau’s office had no comment, but the issue of the treatment of Afghan detainees has been dogging the Canadian military since 2009.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, a former Canadian Forces officer and Afghan war veteran, rejected calls for the government to hold the judicial inquiry into the overall treatment of detainees. He said Canadian military personnel conducted themselves properly at all times.
His refusal is in stark contrast to the Liberals’ position in opposition. They accused the Conservative government of covering up detainee abuse and demanded a public inquiry.
Critics say Sajjan’s work in Afghanistan with the Canadian Forces, which included setting the stage for the killing or capture of 1,500 Afghan insurgents, is enough to disqualify him from deciding not to conduct a public inquiry into alleged abuses.
The defence ministger could have been a witness in any such investigation, said Scott. He noted Sajjan also had dealings with Afghan officials, some of whom were later accused of tminister
However, Sajjan has said in his three tours of Afghanistan he was never involved in any situations involving detainees.
A military police watchdog group is conducting its own investigation into a case involving allegations Canadian military personnel abused Afghan prisoners in their cells in Kandahar in 2010-11.
The Military Police Complaints Commission has interviewed several witnesses with knowledge of the raids by military police who confirmed several detainees were so scared they defecated and urinated on one occasion.
Some Canadian military police officers also recently raised concerns many Afghans taken prisoner by Canadian troops were innocent farmers or workers,not members of the Taliban or al-Qaida.