Uncensored Afghan detainee reports sought by NDP MP Craig Scott
Afghan detainee issue 'will not and must not go away,' former law professor says
A Toronto-area MP is taking advantage of a rarely used parliamentary procedure to push for answers to what he believes are significant lingering questions on an issue once in heavy rotation on the evening news: Canada's treatment of detainees during its decade-long mission in Afghanistan.
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Earlier this week, the NDP's Craig Scott filed notice of two motions for the production of papers: specifically, two separate reports prepared by National Defence Boards of Inquiry into 2006-era incidents involving the handling of detainees.
Unlike written questions, there is no set deadline for the government to deal with requests for production orders, nor any requirement that they be called for debate.
But Scott, it seems, is undaunted.
In an email, he reminded CBC News that before he entered politics, he was a law professor with a special interest in transnational human rights and security — and, as a result, "heavily involved" in pushing for more transparency on Canada's treatment of Afghan detainees.
"When I arrived after the by-election, [NDP Leader] Tom [Mulcair] gave me the … file and asked me to keep digging for the truth," he recalled.
Seeking unredacted reports
To that end, Scott noted he's submitted "a half-dozen" Order Paper questions on the issue over the last two and a half years — including one, filed just a few weeks ago, seeking more detail on the knowledge and awareness of the Canadian government of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency's Detention and Interrogation Program, which was highlighted in a landmark Senate committee report released late last year.
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Scott says his production order is matched by an Access to Information request for unredacted versions of documents released several years ago.
"They were blacked out at a time when we were still in Afghanistan, thus giving the redactors the excuse of an ongoing conflict and ongoing security of our troops as a reason for redaction," he said.
"That rationale is gone and freedom-of-information law recognizes that the passage of time means that what was once kept secret must be revisited in light of contemporary circumstances."
As unlikely as it seems that he will succeed in securing the documents, Scott is adamant the Afghan detainee issue "will not and must not go away."
In his view, it's not only about justice, the rule of law and human rights — "although that is key" — but a fundamental parliamentary principle.
"Amongst everything this Harper regime has done to undermine our democratic institutions and culture, the Afghan detainee policy is right at, or near, the top," he told CBC News.