Politics

Afghan abuse claims went on after 2007: official

A foreign affairs official, Nicholas Gosselin, says he kept hearing allegations of abuse after Canada stopped handing over prisoners to Afghan authorities in November 2007.

A foreign affairs official, Nicholas Gosselin, says he kept hearing allegations of abuse after Canada stopped handing over prisoners to Afghan authorities in November 2007.

Gosselin told the Military Police Complaints Commission in Ottawa on Wednesday that there were at least eight more allegations of torture between January and August 2008.

Canada halted transfers in November 2007 after Gosselin visited an Afghan jail and saw implements of torture — an electric wire and a rubber pipe — under a chair that supported a prisoner's torture claim.

Glenn Stannard, the chair of the Military Police Complaints Commission, listens to a witness. Nicholas Gosselin told the military watchdog on Wednesday that there were at least eight more allegations of torture between January and August 2008. ((Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press))

He told the military watchdog that after that November 2007 visit, foreign affairs officials stepped up the frequency of their visits to the jail.

Gosselin said Canadian officials started going to the jail once every two days.

He said the Canadians had a hard time identifying prisoners, because the filing system in the jail was "archaic," and officials had to "check and double-check" all the time to ensure the right prisoner was in custody.

The commission is holding hearings based on complaints filed in 2007 and 2008 by Amnesty International Canada and the B.C. Civil Liberties Association that Canadian military police didn't properly investigate officers responsible for directing detainee transfers.

Transferring prisoners between countries while knowing they likely face torture is considered a war crime.

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