Thursday, January 17, 2008

Canadian government puts USA and Israel on torture watch list

After releasing their 'torture awareness' training documents for Canadian officials abroad in a court case on Afghan detainees, the government apparently realized they had just publicly revealed that there was reason to believe Canadian allies the USA and Israel were torturing prisoners and tried to recall the documents.

Arar was sent to a Syrian prison where he was tortured for nearly a year. An inquiry into the Arar affair ordered a new focus on torture, and CTV News has learned that, as part of a "torture awareness workshop," diplomats are now being told where to watch for abuse.

The goal of the workshop was to teach diplomats who visit Canadians in foreign jails how to tell if they've been tortured. It also listed countries and places with greater risks of torture. The list includes Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, and China. But surprisingly, it also included the United States, Guantanamo Bay, and Israel.

It notes specific "U.S. interrogation techniques," which include "forced nudity, isolation, and sleep deprivation." The U.S. has repeatedly denied allegations by international groups that it tortures prisoners captured in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. However, U.S. officials have refused to comment on the Canadian list.

But international observers say they are heartened by the specificity of the Canadian list. Alex Neve of Amnesty International says he is surprised that Canada would risk offending allies by naming countries that potentially torture prisoners.

"These are countries where, sadly, the record is clear -- torture and ill treatment happens," said Neve.

Second thoughts

But it appears that Ottawa may have had second thoughts about being so explicit. After the documents were released as evidence in a court case relating to Afghan detainees, the government tried to get them back. Sources say that Ottawa apparently wanted to black out sensitive parts that may anger allies.

A war crimes trial has never been held against anyone under the age of 18. International observers have questioned Ottawa's decision not to help Khadr, who many believe is no different than child soldiers victimized in Africa.

Oops. Too much honesty from Canada's 'new' government, so committed to openness and transparency as it is.

1 comment:

mehlam said...

The unfortunate part is that they apologized and took the US and Israel of the list.

It's a crying shame that Canada values its 'Allies' interests over and above those of their own citizens.

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