Canada

Avoid international detainee affair probe: Layton

The federal government must hold a public inquiry into the handling of Afghan detainees before international bodies begin their own probe into the issue, NDP Leader Jack Layton said.

The federal government must hold a public inquiry into the handling of Afghan detainees before international bodies begin their own probe into the issue, NDP Leader Jack Layton said.

"It's very important that we take control of this here in Canada because if we do not, then we're going to find that international bodies are going to start asking questions and conducting their own investigations if we don't take hold of that responsibility here," Layton told reporters in Ottawa on Thursday.

But Layton said he wouldn't file his own complaint to the international court about the the issue, preferring that the federal government look into the matter.

"It would be preferable by far to have Canadians doing the investigation that needs to be done about what happened rather than having some international body have to do it. Let's take responsibility here."

The Conservatives have resisted calls from opposition MPs to hold a public inquiry following the allegations by Richard Colvin, a former senior diplomat with Canada's mission in Afghanistan.

Colvin, now based in Washington, said prisoners were turned over to Afghan prison officials by the Canadian military in 2006-07, despite his warnings to the Canadian government that they would be tortured.

Willingly handing over detainees to individuals knowing they will be tortured is considered a war crime.

On Wednesday, calls for a public inquiry were renewed after Gen. Walter Natynczyk, Canada's top military commander, reversed his comments from a day earlier and said a suspected Taliban fighter abused by Afghan police in June 2006 had been detained by Canadian troops.

On Thursday, the Liberals introduced a Commons motion to force the government to release documents on the Afghan detainee issue.

Michael Ignatieff is demanding to see all records related to the incident of abuse revealed by Natynczyk.

With files from The Canadian Press

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