Canada

Canadian officials heard torture allegations: Day

The federal government admitted for the first time that it has received specific allegations of torture from some Afghan detainees.

The federal government admitted for the first time that it has received specific allegations of torture from some Afghan detainees.

Abuse claims were made to two Canadian corrections officers in discussions with prisoners held in Afghanistan, Public Safety MinisterStockwell Day said Monday.

Corrections Canada has deployed two officers in Kandahar since early February to help train and mentor Afghan jailers

"Yes, they have actually talked to detainees about the possibility if they were tortured or not," Day told reporters. "They actually had a couple of incidents where detainees said they were."

But Day couldn't say whether any of those detainees were originally captured by Canadian troops.

"I don't have that precise information but we'll look into it and we'll get back to you," he said.

No evidence to back claims: Day

Day said the officers had no evidence to back up the abuse claims, but didn't say if an investigation had been conducted.

CBC News spoke to three former prisoners who all say they were mistreated by Afghan authorities, after being handed over by Canadian troops.

They claim they were beaten, and in once case, a guard subjected one man to electric shocks.

For eight days, the Conservatives have been put on the defensive in Parliament over allegations that prisoners captured by Canadian soldiers were later tortured in Afghan custody.

On Monday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper maintained that there wasno evidence of abuse.

"As I've said many times, the government takes these allegationsseriously," Harper said.

"We have agreements with the government of Afghanistan and alsowith the Afghan independent human rights commission. The knowledge we have at this point is that those agreements are operating as theyshould."

Members of the Afghan independent human rights commissionwere able to examine prison conditions in Kandahar on Monday,although they couldn't talk privately with the detainees.

"The place where these men are being held is not fit for humans," said Shamsudin Taweer, an inspector with the commission. "The conditions are terrible."

He said that inside the prison, 24 men are crammed into two cells. He said some detainees aren't allowed to sleep and that at times, there isn't enough food for everyone.

"In other countries, human rights are respected in prisons," he said. "But in Afghanistan, we don't always treat human rights in the same way."

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