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CAUT Bulletin Archives

December 2009

CAUT Supports Call for Afghan Detainee Inquiry

CAUT has added its voice to calls for a public inquiry into the treatment of Afghan detainees — the result of a decision made Nov. 28 at the association’s Council meeting.

Penni Stewart, president of CAUT, said a resolution for Parliament to establish an independent inquiry into whether Canada met all international legal obligations in the handover of Afghan prisoners captured by Canadian troops passed with overwhelming support.

CAUT’s resolution acknowledges the “respect for civil liberties, fundamental human rights and transparent, democratic processes are the bedrock of a democratic society.”

Stewart said when developments undermine these values, “free intellectual inquiry, academic freedom and independent academic institutions are also threatened.”

She said that testimony to a House of Commons committee reveals Canada, in its prosecution of the war in Afghanistan, may have breached fundamental human rights obligations “specifically, the duty to ensure detainees are not transferred to a risk of torture.”

The resolution says the government has tried to cover up revelations of detainee abuse by ignoring and suppressing reports establishing a credible risk of torture and attempting to suppress witness testimony before the Commons committee and the Military Police Complaints Commission.

“We believe that protocols governing democratic societies should be strongly protected and that the government has an obligation to its citizens to guarantee and protect fundamental values,” Stewart said.

“This is why delegates to our Council meeting were so strongly in support of the need for an independent inquiry with a mandate to subpoena all relevant witnesses and evidence and to recommend prosecutions of responsible individuals, if warranted, under Canadian and international law.”