Torture reference censored

OTTAWA — Finding a piece of braided electrical cable in the office of an Afghani investigations director was enough to get the man fired, but not enough to convince Canadian officials that torture was taking place.

OTTAWA — Finding a piece of braided electrical cable in the office of an Afghani investigations director was enough to get the man fired, but not enough to convince Canadian officials that torture was taking place.

Opposition MPs were incredulous Wednesday as three Canadian civil servants maintained they had no “first-hand” evidence that Afghan detainees were being abused, notwithstanding allegations by some prisoners of being beaten with cables.

It was the highlight of a sometimes testy, two-hour exchange at the special committee on Afghanistan.

“What would a braided piece of electrical cable be used for?” Liberal MP Bob Rae asked Linda Garwood-Filbert.

The Corrections Canada official had testified the cable was found in a prison warden’s office on Nov. 5, 2007, by Foreign Affairs officials, whose report on the matter resulted in the unnamed man’s firing.

Garwood-Filbert told Rae she wasn’t there when the cable was found. But when he pressed, she conceded that “we started getting a bit of a theme when prisoners or detainees were referring to the use of cables.”

Garwood-Filbert had earlier testified that during 33 visits to Afghan prisons and interviews with about two dozen prisoners, she’d seen no evidence of physical abuse. In fact, said the special projects officer at Stony Mountain penitentiary in Manitoba, the Afghan complaints typically revolved around food, living conditions, access to family visits and medical care. “These are also typical complaints from inmates in Canada,” said Garwood-Filbert.

Rae got no further with Colleen Swords, an assistant deputy minister at Foreign Affairs.

He noted the international convention on torture speaks of having “substantial grounds” for believing a person will be subjected to torture, and taking into account “all relevant considerations.”

“If you find an instrument of torture in the office of the director of investigations of the national directorate of security, what is that?” he asked Swords.

She responded the “standard is a substantial risk of torture, and it has to be with respect to the individual, not just generally.”

The day also saw the public release of a huge pile of heavily censored documents.

Conservative ministers have said the documents had to be censored for national security reasons before they could be released

But the value of the newly released material was called into question when the NDP clearly illustrated that damaging references to “extrajudicial executions” and “torture” had been blacked out of one 2006 Foreign Affairs report.

“By redacting just that one sentence, the government was able to cover up knowledge of extrajudicial killings and torture in Afghanistan,” NDP MP Paul Dewar said, citing this as an example of overzealous censorship.

“This is precisely why Canadians can’t trust any document with redactions from this government.”

A majority of MPs — with the minority Conservative caucus dissenting — voted Tuesday for a judicial inquiry to be held at which sensitive information could be handled properly in a non-partisan forum.

Just Posted

Sunny weather improves farmers’ prospects

A harvester kicking up dust. It’s a picture that will bring a… Continue reading

Rural transit pilot project being considered

Penhold, Innisfail and Red Deer County councils to decide whether to go ahead with project

Red Deer fire station up for sale

Home sweet home at Fire Station 4

Most surveyed Innisfail residents give urban chickens the thumbs up

Town of Innisfail will discuss whether to allow backyard chickens on Monday

‘Mom I’m in trouble:’ Canadian, Brit face 10 years in jail for alleged graffiti

GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. — The mother of a Canadian who was arrested… Continue reading

Coyote on the prowl near Penhold

This coyote was out on the prowl in a field just west… Continue reading

Sky’s the limit as Calgary opens testing area for drones and new technologies

CALGARY — The sky’s the limit as the city of Calgary opens… Continue reading

Hi Mickey, ‘Bye Mickey: 6 Disney parks on 2 coasts in 1 day

ORLANDO, Fla. — Heather and Clark Ensminger breathed sighs of relief when… Continue reading

Court weighs ‘Apprentice’ hopeful’s suit versus Trump

NEW YORK — President Donald Trump’s lawyers hope to persuade an appeals… Continue reading

StarKist admits fixing tuna prices, faces $100 million fine

SAN FRANCISCO — StarKist Co. agreed to plead guilty to a felony… Continue reading

Annual pace of inflation slows to 2.2 per cent in September: Statistics Canada

OTTAWA — The annual pace of inflation slowed more than expected in… Continue reading

Jury finds Calgary couple guilty in 2013 death of toddler son

CALGARY — A jury has convicted a Calgary couple in the death… Continue reading

Most Read