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Canadians believe Colvin, reject torture – poll (PS: Join the Facebook group demanding a public inquiry)

It appears the furious attacks on Richard Colvin’s testimony – and the man’s reputation – has backfired on the Conservatives:

Canadians aren’t buying the Harper government’s assertion that there’s no credible evidence Afghan detainees were tortured, a new poll suggests…Fifty-one per cent of respondents said they believe Colvin’s testimony to the committee last week. In stark contrast, only 25 per cent said they believe the government’s contention that the diplomat’s claims are flimsy and not credible.

Even more strongly noted in this poll, Canadians are totally against turning over prisoners if it’s known they’ll be tortured:

Moreover, fully 70 per cent said it’s unacceptable that Canadian forces would hand […]

Think you've seen this movie before? You have indeed.

It seemed like the Conservatives were in a big rush to get current Canadian ambassador to China – and formerly Richard Colvin’s boss – David Mulroney back to testify to try and refute Colvin’s claims that his reports on torture in Afghanistan were ignored or even discouraged – with Colvin mentioning Mulroney’s name as one of those who had done the ignoring/discouraging. They were in such a rush that they got him a plane ticket to appear before he was even formally invited by the Afghanistan committee.

The opposition parties aren’t going to allow that until the Harper government turns over relevant government documents on the Afghan torture file […]

Afghan agency reported 400 cases of torture - 47 of them in Kandahar.

I’m presuming that Peter MacKay and the rest of the Conservative government will claim since this agency didn’t actually, you know, see the torture first hand, it’s ‘not reliable’:

An Afghan agency, at one time entrusted to monitor Canadian-captured insurgents in Kandahar, says it has documented nearly 400 cases of torture across the war-ravaged country…The Conservative government has described Colvin’s allegation as hearsay, unsubstantiated and “simply not credible.” However, the Afghan commission said it uncovered 47 cases of abuse in Kandahar, which was ranked third in terms of the number of abuse claims in the country.

“Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment are common in the majority of […]

Brit media picks up Colvin story, & more folks come to the defence of Colvin.

Well, it appears some of the British press have started to notice the Colvin testimony and are interested in hearing about it: Courtesy of Impolitical, here’s an op-ed from Colin Horgan for the Guardian:

Time for truth about torture After a whistleblower revealed Canadian complicity in the torture of Afghan prisoners, a full public inquiry is vital

MacKay spent his Thursday afternoon on the major Canadian news networks, attempting to undermine Colvin’s testimony. But given Colvin’s high rank and non-partisan position, it seems difficult to imagine what Colvin might have to gain from lying…

A public inquiry is necessary. Taking this discussion outside of partisan bickering in the House […]

Arar commission counsel rejects the 'have to see it to believe it' defence of the government.

A lot of professional diplomats and other credible persons are coming to Richard Colvin’s defence today. This Star column is an interview with Paul Cavalluzzo, the senior commission counsel at the Maher Arar inquiry. He says the Conservative government’s claims of needing “first hand evidence” to believe that torture was being committed in Afghanistan is not very credible and very similar to what Maher Arar faced:

…Cavalluzzo, a respected Toronto lawyer, cited similarities between the Conservative government’s hard-line position and Canada’s role in the torture of Arar in a Syrian prison.. “I saw many similarities because his (Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s) position seems to be that unless you see the […]

European Union diplomat says Colvin is correct.

Richard Colvin’s diplomatic equivalent in the EU says in the Saturday Toronto Star that Colvin knew what he was talking about when he tried to warn Canadian officials about torture:

EU diplomat backs claims on torture Canadian’s warnings on Afghan detainees reflected common view, says his European colleague

Richard Colvin’s repeated warnings to the Canadian government about detainee torture in Afghanistan were an expression of the common concerns of like-minded Western nations, not the baseless ramblings of a rogue diplomat, a European colleague says. Michael Semple, former deputy head of the European Union’s mission in Afghanistan when Colvin was second-in-command of the Canadian embassy, said his own records from his […]

Expert on laws of war says that war crimes may have been committed by Canadian officials

Note that this rather blunt opinion of Canada or Canadian officials possibly being in breach of international law comes from a 3rd party, not an opposition political party. Here’s an excerpt of an article posted at Macleans by Professor Michael Byers, “who holds the Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law at the University of British Columbia, and has He has taught the laws of war at UBC, Duke University, Oxford University, the University of Cape Town and the University of Tel Aviv”:

‘Elements of a war crime seem to be present’ According to UBC’s laws of war expert, Canadian officials may be in breach of the Geneva […]

Time for an independent probe on the Afghanistan detainee transfer issue.

The testimony brought forth by diplomat Richard Colvin was indeed “explosive” on detainee transfers yesterday:

A senior diplomat delivered a series of explosive allegations to a rapt House of Commons committee Wednesday, telling MPs that Afghan prisoners transferred by Canadians to local authorities in Kandahar were likely all tortured – while high-level officials in Ottawa looked the other way…Colvin, the second-ranked Canadian diplomat in Afghanistan in 2006 and 2007, said he tried repeatedly to raise concerns with senior military and government officials, to no avail. Using a calm, controlled diplomatic cadence, he challenged three years of assurances by the Conservative government that no evidence existed of abuse of prisoners captured […]

A closely watched Committee appearance today

This has the potential to be a big deal today, if the previews are correct:

Handling of Afghan prisoners covered up: report

The testimony of a Canadian diplomat before a parliamentary committee Wednesday is likely to provide disturbing information about the government’s handling of Afghan detainees, CBC News has learned. The testimony of diplomat Richard Colvin is expected to provide details of what sources describe as an “unusual system” that saw Afghan detainees transferred to Afghan prisons, with little care about the conditions there. “I think it will be a difficult story for Canadians,” a source told the CBC, adding they could be both surprised and disturbed by what Colvin […]

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