Canada

Bernier defends Afghan prisoner transfer deal

The disclosure of new cases of alleged Afghan prisoner abuse is a sign that Canada's transfer deal with the Afghan government is a success, the foreign affairs minister said on Thursday.

The disclosure of new cases of alleged Afghan prisoner abuse is a sign that Canada's transfer deal with the Afghan government is a success, the foreign affairs minister said on Thursday.

"The agreement that we signed, it's working," Maxime Bernier told the House of Commons.

Bernierhas confirmedthat Canadian officials are now looking at seven cases in which prisoners handed over by Canadian soldiers may have been mistreated by Afghan security. He also said he's spoken with his Afghan counterpart, who's promised a full investigation.

Published reports last spring said as many as three dozen prisoners — captured by Canadian troops, but handed over to local authorities— complained of being beaten and abused prior to the signing of a new transfer arrangement last May.

Criticism over the handling of Afghan detainees comes as the government made public more than a thousand pages of documents on Wednesday, including reports on conditions inside Afghan prisons.

The heavily censored documents were submitted in court as part of a lawsuit launched by human rights groups. They contain references to harsh living conditions and allegations of abuse.

On Thursday, NDP defence critic Dawn Black said Bernier has no reason to gloat over the new policy.

"The government shouldn't be proud of the fact that it's reporting cases of abuse and torture. It should be ashamed," she said.

Black also shrugged off Bernier's conversation with his counterpart, saying that she didn't"think a phone call is going to cut it.

"The government's policy is to hand over detainees to Afghan authorities and hope they do the best they can."


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