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1994: Somalia Inquiry to investigate Canadian military scandal

Canadian peacemakers were lauded as heroes when they went into an untamed land ruled by rebels. Their mission, Operation Deliverance, charged them with restoring order in Somalia. But in fact, the Canadian Airborne regiment was splitting apart at the seams, lacking both leadership and accountability. Murder after murder, the troops came home disgraced. Tracks were covered and responsibility shifted up and down the chain of command during an investigation that would dismantle the army and implicate the government in a high-level cover-up.

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On Nov. 17, 1994, the federal government announces a public inquiry to investigate violence perpetrated against Somalis at a Canadian military compound in Somalia. The most publicized incident occurred in March of 1993, when stories of two shootings and the torture of a Somali teenager alarmed Canadians at home. This public inquiry is civilian-led, and is expected to look more deeply into what went on in Somalia than a previous military-led inquiry.

Army surgeon Dr. Barry Armstrong is largely responsible for the inquiry. He went public with allegations of organized cover-ups involving Canadians abusing Somalis. Defence Minister David Collenette admits that an inquiry would have eventually been called, but not this soon, without Armstrong's public allegations.
• In 1992, Canadian soldiers went to Somalia on a UN peacekeeping mission to ease an escalating civil war between warlord leaders.

• Canadian soldiers shot two civilians in Somalia in 1993, killing one and wounding the other. Twelve days later, 16-year-old Shidane Arone was tortured and killed. "Trophy" photos were taken and eventually ended up on the news, shocking the Canadian public.

• One of the two soldiers most directly involved in the incident, Clayton Matchee, was found unfit for trial after trying to hang himself and suffering brain damage. The other soldier, Pvt. Kyle Brown, was found guilty and sentenced to five years in military prison.

• The Report of the Somalia Commission of Inquiry was delivered to the government at the end of June, 1997. It concluded that there was indeed a cover-up in the shooting death of a Somali citizen in March 1993.
Medium: Television
Program: Prime Time News
Broadcast Date: Nov. 17, 1994
Guests: Barry Armstrong, David Collinette, Stephen Harper
Host: Peter Mansbridge
Reporter: Susan Harada
Duration: 1:59

Last updated: October 21, 2014

Page consulted on October 21, 2014

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