Alarming detention issues alleged by diplomat

A former Canadian diplomat warned the federal government in May 2006 of “serious” and “alarming” problems with the handling of Afghan prisoners in Kandahar.

Military Police Complaints Commission chair Peter Tinsley listens to remarks during the Public Interest Hearings into the allegations regarding Afghan Detainees in Gatineau

OTTAWA — A former Canadian diplomat warned the federal government in May 2006 of “serious” and “alarming” problems with the handling of Afghan prisoners in Kandahar.

Richard Colvin, deputy head of intelligence at the Canadian embassy in Washington, filed several reports during his roughly 18 months in Afghanistan.

He filed an affidavit with the Military Police Complaints Commission, which is investigating what military cops knew, or should have known, about the possible torture of prisoners.

The 16-page written statement was sealed last week for a national security review, but was released publicly today.

The Conservative government repeatedly said in the spring of 2007 that it had received no credible reports of prisoner abuse.

But Colvin said he warned the deputy commander of the provincial reconstruction base after he became aware of problems upon arriving in Kandahar in April 2006.

He visited Sarpoza prison before writing a detailed report a month later.

“Judging these problems regarding Afghan detainees to be serious, imminent and alarming, I made investigations and detailed my findings formally in my reporting from the PRT,” Colvin wrote.

The report was submitted to the Foreign Affairs Department, but cc’d to senior military officers — both in Kandahar and Ottawa.

Colvin said he sent it through specific “action address” channels, “which ensured it would not only be received and read, but should be acted on.”

He still has the report, but has not yet turned it over to the commission.

It remains unclear in the affidavit whether the stark warnings were passed along to either Defence Minister Peter MacKay, who was in the foreign affairs portfolio at the time, or former defence minister Gordon O’Connor.

Paul Champ, the lawyer for Amnesty International and the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, was startled to read about Colvin’s report.

He said the May 26, 2006, report was not disclosed in previous court actions launched by the human-rights groups, which have been trying to halt transfers of Afghan prisoners.

Just Posted

UPDATED: Officials tour Hwy 2/Gaetz Avenue interchange

Deputy Premier Sarah Hoffman and local MLAs visit construction site

Bike thefts becoming ‘significant problem’ in Red Deer

Residents are sounding the alarm on the growing problem of bike theft… Continue reading

Red Deer approves 10 cannabis retail stores

Locations approved around the city

One trillion litres of sewage leaked into lakes and rivers over last five years

OTTAWA — Last Wednesday, a team of people from the Lake Ontario… Continue reading

Woman bitten at Red Deer dog park

Dog owners reminded to control their pets

WATCH: A horse was neglected by its owner. Now the horse is suing

ESTACADA, Ore. - Justice is an 8-year-old American quarter horse who used… Continue reading

Red Sox old-timer’s memorabilia going up for sale

BIDDEFORD, Maine — Some items belonging to one of the Boston Red… Continue reading

Rival Korea leaders to meet in Pyongyang in September

SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — The rival Koreas announced Monday that North… Continue reading

Charlottesville anniversary: Peaceful protests, few arrests

WASHINGTON — Thousands of people wanting to send a message that racism… Continue reading

‘I believe music heals people’: 12-year-old records tribute for shooting victims

YARMOUTH, N.S. — Twelve-year-old Josh Cochrane of Yarmouth, N.S., watched the news… Continue reading

Fallen officers’ families gather with Justin Trudeau after tragedy

The prime minister laid flowers at the growing memorial to the four victims of Friday’s violence

Fallen officers’ families gather with prime minister after tragedy

FREDERICTON — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with families of fallen Fredericton… Continue reading

Liberals showcase benefits of billions spent on infrastructure projects

OTTAWA — Little more than a year before the next federal election,… Continue reading

Fredericton parade ‘a way to celebrate even in the midst of this grief’: mayor

FREDERICTON — Two days after four people were gunned down in a… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month