View Full Version : Canada Puts U.S., Israel On Torture Watchlist - CTV

01-17-2008, 10:14 PM
Canada puts U.S., Israel on torture watchlist -CTV


Thu Jan 17, 2008 10:32am EST

OTTAWA, Jan 17 (Reuters) - An official Canadian government document has put both the United States and Israel on a watch list of countries where prisoners run the risk of being tortured, CTV television reported on Thursday.

The revelation is likely to embarrass the minority Conservative government, which is a staunch U.S. ally.

The document mentions the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba where a Canadian man is being held.

CTV said the document was part of a course on torture awareness given to Canadian diplomats to help them determine whether prisoners they visited abroad had been mistreated.

It said the document mentioned U.S. interrogation techniques such as "forced nudity, isolation, and sleep deprivation."

Other countries on the watch list include Syria, China, Iran and Afghanistan, CTV said.

A spokesman for Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier tried to distance Ottawa from the document.

"The training manual is not a policy document and does not reflect the views or policies of this government," he said.

The mention of Guantanamo Bay is particularly sensitive, since the Canadian government rejects allegations that a citizen may have been mistreated there.

Omar Khadr has been in the facility for five years. He is accused of killing a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan in 2002, when he was 15.

Right groups say Khadr should be repatriated to Canada, an idea that Ottawa firmly rejects.

A spokeswoman at the U.S. embassy said she was looking into the report. No one was immediately available for comment at the Israeli embassy.

The torture awareness course started after Ottawa was strongly criticised for the way it handled the case of Canadian engineer Maher Arar, who was deported from the United States to Syria in 2002.

Arar says he was tortured repeatedly during the year he spent in Damascus prisons. An inquiry into the case revealed that Canadian diplomats had not received any formal training into detecting whether detainees had been abused. (Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

01-20-2008, 07:48 PM
Torture awareness manual 'wrongly' lists Cdn allies, to be rewritten: Bernier


1 day ago

TORONTO - Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier found himself backtracking Saturday over his department's training manual that lists the U.S. and Guantanamo Bay as sites of possible torture - alongside such countries as Iran and Syria.

In a statement, Bernier said he regretted the embarrassment caused by the public disclosure of the manual, adding that it contains a list that "wrongly" includes some of Canada's closest allies.

Bernier said the manual is neither a policy document, nor a statement of policy, and that he has directed it to be reviewed and rewritten.

When asked by The Canadian Press later, Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Marina Wilson could not say how long it would take to conduct such a review or what the process might involve. She would say only that the minister's statement speaks for itself.

Along with the U.S. prison camp in Cuba and the United States, the list includes Afghanistan, China, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Mexico and Syria.

The workshop manual, which was used in the Foreign Affairs department's torture awareness training, was produced about two years ago while Justice Dennis O'Connor was investigating the case of Maher Arar.

Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian engineer, was imprisoned and tortured in Syria for almost a year after he was detained and sent there by U.S. authorities in 2002 after he was wrongfully accused of having terrorist ties. A Canadian judicial inquiry, led by O'Connor, later cleared him. Ottawa awarded Arar $10.5 million in compensation after the inquiry concluded faulty information passed by the RCMP to American officials likely led to his deportation to Syria.

Arar wasn't the only Canadian who has been tortured abroad or who has complained of mistreatment. William Sampson, who holds a dual British-Canadian citizenship, was imprisoned and tortured in Saudi Arabia where he was arrested in 2001, accused of involvement in a string of bombings in Riyadh. He was granted amnesty and freed in 2003.

Omar Khadr, 21, who is the lone Canadian being held at Guantanamo Bay on charges that include murdering a U.S. medic with a grenade during a July 2002 firefight in Afghanistan, has claimed in the past he has been abused. His lawyers have said he has been held in solitary confinement for months at a time, and been used as a mop to wipe up his own urine. Foreign Affairs officials have said they accept U.S. assurances Khadr has been treated humanely.

The Canadian Press first reported the manual's existence on Wednesday after it had been inadvertently released to lawyers working on a lawsuit involving allegations of abuse of detainees in Afghanistan.

It offers a section on laws prohibiting torture and what diplomats should do when cases are suspected. It cites interrogation techniques such as stripping prisoners, blindfolding and sleep deprivation.

"I regret the embarrassment caused by the public disclosure of the manual used in the department's torture awareness training," Bernier said in the statement.

"It does not convey the government's views or positions," the statement added.

In Toronto, Liberal foreign affairs critic Bob Rae told The Canadian Press the government is in damage control.

"There's a question of competence. I mean, to me, I don't think I've ever seen a situation, or a government where the management of the foreign policy was handled in such an amateurish way on a number of fronts," said Rae.

"The minister goes to the Middle East and can't answer any questions when he's in Israel because, you know, he's not allowed to answer any questions, " Rae added. "They attempt to control everything from central casting but sometimes things happen and then they immediately try to do the damage control on a Saturday morning."

"This is a very strange way to run a government," he suggested, adding any list of this kind can't be politically controlled.

"It's a list that has to be based on the evidence from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, agencies of the United Nations and so on."

Rae said he hopes the government gets on with the review quickly and reveals the criteria that will be used to determine which countries should be on the list.

"The idea that you would equate the government of the United States with the government of Iran with respect to the treatment of prisoners is a little hard to fathom," said Rae.

"But the fact that both Senator (John) McCain and Senator (Barack) Obama had to speak so strongly on the issue of torture during the questioning of the former attorney general of the United States shows that the question of the treatment of prisoners in the United States is a live question," said Rae.

"But it is impossible to justify comparing it to what is going on in a country like Iran, where we have documented evidence of systematic torture of prisoners," said Rae.

In an e-mail to The Canadian Press Saturday, Jason Kenney, secretary of state for multiculturalism who was in Vancouver, took issue with Rae's comments.

"I found Mr. Rae's remarks today about amateurism in foreign policy utterly ridiculous. Mr. Rae belongs to a party led by someone who just proposed to invade Pakistan. I wonder when Mr. Rae will suggest that Stephane Dion apologize to the government of Pakistan for these remarks," wrote Kenney.

When asked if the Harper government has spoken to representatives of countries listed in the manual, including the U.S., Kenney would only write "Minister Bernier's statement speaks for itself."

In Montreal Saturday, Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe declined to comment on the government's move to review the manual.

Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International, told The Canadian Press from Ottawa he's unhappy with the decision to rewrite the manual.

"It was commendable to see that manual which seemed to include an important section that was an objective assessment of human rights concerns around the world," said Neve. "To see that now be undermined by concerns about embarrassing allies is very disappointing."

U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins said the U.S. found it offensive to be on the same list with countries such as Iran and China. He said the U.S. requested it be removed from the list and added the U.S. does not condone torture.

An Israeli Embassy spokesman said the ambassador of Israel would expect his country to be removed from the list.