So, Harper is trying to dismiss a report which contained this statement:
Despite some positive developments, the overall human rights situation in Afghanistan deteriorated in 2006 ... Extra judicial executions, disappearances, torture and detention without trial are all too common. Freedom of expression still faces serious obstacles, there are serious deficiencies in adherence to the rule of law and due process by police and judicial officials. Impunity remains a problem in the aftermath of three decades of war and much needed reforms of the judiciary systems remain to be implemented.Harper's defence? This:
Mr. Harper said the government had “no evidence of specific allegations” revealed by the Globe and Mail.No evidence of specific allegations. That was Harper's line throughout Question Period in Parliament. But he didn't say he didn't see the report mentioned above. He may not have had a specific report; but he had that one.
He knew, O'Connor knew and MacKay knew.... OK... so MacKay didn't know. After all, it was produced by his department. None of them, (except MacKay), have denied that they actually saw that report. And the question has to be, why didn't they take the appropriate action to ensure that prisoners handed over to the Karzai government were being treated in accordance with the Geneva Conventions? Because they never did take that action. What makes that clear is this report appearing late today:
Canada has reached an agreement with Afghan officials to check on the status of detainees, Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor said Wednesday in the face of intense questioning at the House of Commons.That agreement, reached Wednesday, would not have been deemed necessary unless so-called rumours of abuse and worse had some basis in fact and the leaders of the Canadian government were aware of it.
O'Connor told a foreign affairs committee that officials have struck a deal with the governor of Kandahar that will let them visit Afghan detainees handed over by Canadian troops.
But there's more. O'Connor has now implemented a third supposed agreement. The first was with the International Committee of the Red Cross, which turned out not to exist; the next agreement was with the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, which has claimed it cannot gain access to prisoners, therefore cannot produce information it supposedly promised to provide. Now O'Connor has gone to the governor of Kandahar to allow, what appears to be, Canadians to actually check the condition of prisoners taken by Canadians troops.
There's only one problem: For the last few months at least, the Canadian government has no idea who it was that they actually turned over to the Afghans because they didn't properly document the transfers.
So, who are they going to look at?
And why should we believe O'Connor now? This is his third shot at the same problem. He's screwed the pooch twice before and now we are expected to believe he's finally found the solution? That is more latitude than O'Connor would have given a junior officer when he was a brigadier-general.