Torture and Afghan Detainees: the need for a public inquiry

FILE- A prisoner leans against the entrance to the wing where political prisoners are kept at Sarposa prison in Kandhar city, in this 2009 file photo. Opposition threats to stall all parliamentary business seem to have helped break a log-jam in negotiations over access to sensitive Afghan detainee documents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dene Moore

A new report, entitled Torture of Afghan Detainees: Canada’s Alleged Complicity and the Need for a Public Inquiryhas just been released by the Rideau Institute and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Written by Omar Sabry, a human rights researcher and advocate based in Ottawa, the study identifies the need for government accountability and non-impunity for alleged breaches of international and national law, in relation to the transfer of Afghan Detainees, despite substantial risks that they might be tortured.

In transferring hundreds to the custody of the NDS in Kandahar, Canada failed to prevent the torture of many Afghan detainees,” said Sabry.

The government occasionally suspended transfers for various reasons, including disturbing allegations of abuse, but then resumed transfers on at least six occasions. The government’s conduct in this regard was haphazard and unprincipled, in addition to being in violation of international law.”

The study recommends that the Government of Canada launch a transparent and impartial judicial Commission of Inquiry into the actions of Canadian officials, including Ministers of the Crown, relating to Afghan detainees. The Government should also develop clear policies that would prevent future reliance on diplomatic assurances against torture, including in situations involving armed conflict and extradition, and reaffirm Canada’s commitment to the prohibition of torture by immediately signing and ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

In commenting on the report, Peggy Mason, the President of Rideau Institute stated:

While there is no “new” information or “smoking gun” in this report, there is ample evidence of the Harper government’s systematic efforts  to keep parliament and the public in the dark. We believe this is unfinished business of the most serious kind – accountability for alleged serious breaches of international and national law – the only appropriate remedy for which is a public inquiry.

See also the article by Peter Mazereeuw, “Report calls for inquiry into Afghan detainee transfers”, (Embassy News, 23 September, 2015), “Report calls for full inquiry into Afghan detainee torture scandal”, (Amanda Connolly,, 23 September, 2015) and “Fresh calls for inquiry into allegations Canada was complicit in torture of Afghan prisoners” (Jake Bleiberg, Vice, 23 September, 2015).

For the full PDF report, Click Here

For the media release:



For the Executive summary:

English (Longer version)

French (Original)

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