Canadians have nowhere to keep captives
Canadian forces in Afghanistan will continue to turn over captives to U.S. forces because there's no other place to hold them. The Canadians don't have their own jails or confinement centres.
Defence Minister Art Eggleton confirmed on Tuesday that the team of Joint Task Force Two (JTF2) forces in Afghanistan since December have turned over prisoners to the Americans.
An Associated Press photo that ran in several newspapers last week showed commandos originally identified as U.S. troops but later said to be Canadians with Taliban prisoners.
In Ottawa, some politicians worry that by turning over captives to the U.S. forces, Canada is betraying its own values by subjecting the prisoners to the possibility of trials by military tribunals and death sentences.
- FROM JAN. 29, 2002: Canada's JTF2 gave captured Afghans to U.S.: Eggleton
So far, there are only a handful of JTF2 troops on the ground. But in the next few weeks, 750 soldiers, mostly from the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, are scheduled to arrive and that could result in more prisoners.
The commanding officer of the PPCL contingent, Lt. Col. Pat Stogran, says any prisoners won't be in Canadian hands for long. He said the Canadians will be "searching them, relieving them of any weapons that can do harm to themselves or ourselves and then move them back up the chain, so the amount of time our soldiers will be handling detainees will be minimal."
- BACKGROUNDER: JTF2: Canada's elite fighters
When Stogran says "back up the chain," he means sending the prisoners to a tent prison on the American base at Kandahar airport.
The alternative, a separate detention facility for prisoners taken by Canadian forces, has not even been discussed, Stogran said.
Detainees in the U.S. camps receive regular visits from the International Red Cross. Gianni Bacchetta, head of the Red Cross in Kandahar, says access to the camps has been exemplary.
"We are fully satisfied by the access, the working conditions offered by the detainer," he said.
But Red Cross representatives aren't allowed to say anything about conditions inside the prison. They report any breaches found to the U.S. army.