My Community

Canadian Veterans Advocacy Operations => Military Police Complaints Commission - Commission d'examen des plaintes concernant la police militaire => Afghan Detainee case => Topic started by: CVA_Posting on June 27, 2012, 11:29:43 AM

Title: Military Police Complaints Commission releases report in Afghan Detainee case
Post by: CVA_Posting on June 27, 2012, 11:29:43 AM
Military Police Complaints Commission releases report in Afghan Detainee case

http://www.mpcc-cppm.gc.ca/400/nr-cp/2012-06-27-eng.aspx

Ottawa June 27, 2012 -- The Military Police Complaints Commission has made recommendations to improve military police investigations in its response to a complaint about the conduct of Canada’s Military Police in Afghanistan.

The Commission’s report is in response to a complaint made by Amnesty International Canada (AIC) and the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) on June 12, 2008.  The two organizations alleged a failure on the part of certain Military Police officers to investigate the Canadian Task Force Commanders in Afghanistan for directing the transfer of detainees in the face of known risk of torture during the timeframe May 3, 2007 to June 12, 2008.

While the Commission found that the complaints against the eight individual Military Police subjects were unsubstantiated, it identified serious problems regarding reporting, accountability and information sharing in the Military Police, and made recommendations to improve the work of policing when MPs are deployed on missions.  The Commission also made two recommendations designed to remove serious obstacles related to document disclosure and witness access during Public Interest Hearings conducted by the Commission.

“While the Commission has dismissed the complaint against eight individual senior Military Police officers, we have made a number of recommendations that we believe will improve the quality of policing services delivered by the Military Police,” said Commission Chairperson Glenn Stannard in releasing the 535 page report.  “Despite the limitations imposed by its legal mandate, this inquiry was the most exhaustive yet held into the subject of detainee transfers by the CF in Afghanistan,” he said.

As noted in the report, the Commission’s legal mandate did not extend to making findings and recommendations concerning the Government of Canada and Canadian Forces’ policy on detainee transfers.

In the course of its investigation, which lasted nearly four years, the Commission determined that senior military commanders in Afghanistan did not believe that post-transfer issues were part of the mandate of the Military Police, and that MPs were “marginalized” when it came to discussions and information related to post transfer issues.  Information on detainee abuse, including reports on site visits conducted by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade to Afghan detention facilities, stayed within a small group of people in Afghanistan that excluded the Military Police.  Furthermore, the Commission found that “MP input into post-transfer detainee issues or the status of the transfer process would have been perceived as unwelcome.”

The Commission concluded, from the evidence as a whole, that none of the eight subjects of the complaint should have investigated the Task Force commanders while in theatre, or should have caused such an investigation to occur, and that their actions under the circumstances prevailing at the time “met the standards of a reasonable police officer.”

The Commission also found, however, that significant problems did exist with respect to continuity of knowledge, accountability and information sharing within the Military Police.
The report also contains a lengthy description of the obstacles experienced by the Commission related to procedural matters, and includes recommendations on improving the process for future public interest investigations and hearings.  The obstacles experienced by the Commission when it came to document production, witness access, parallel court proceedings and claims of national security were significant, and, in the Commission’s view, largely unnecessary and avoidable.

The Commission heard testimony from 40 witnesses, including the eight subjects of the complaint, during 47 days of public hearings from 2008 to 2011. The Commission also reviewed thousands of documents in its investigation.

-30-

For additional information, please visit:

Full report http://www.mpcc-cppm.gc.ca/300/afghan/2012-06-27-eng.aspx

Backgrounder on Commission’s findings and recommendations http://www.mpcc-cppm.gc.ca/400/media/2012-06-27-1-eng.aspx

Contact:

Michael Tansey
Communications Advisor,
Military Police Complaints Commission
Cell: (613) 851-4587
Tel:   (613) 487-3765
michael@tancom.ca
www.mpcc-cppm.gc.ca
Title: Military police report has harsh words for Ottawa’s stonewalling
Post by: CVA_Posting on June 28, 2012, 08:10:04 PM
Military police report has harsh words for Ottawa’s stonewalling

http://www.thestar.com/printarticle/1218204

Canadians now know that Afghan security forces routinely beat Al Qaeda and Taliban suspects senseless with cudgels, pipes, wire cables and rubber hoses. They tortured teenagers. Burned suspects with cigarettes, tore out their nails and hung them from ceilings. A United Nations report last year confirmed the horrors. “Even stones confess here,” one jailer told a suspect.

Yet when a firestorm erupted in Parliament over fears that Canadian troops might be handing over detainees to torturers, threatening his minority government, Prime Minister Stephen Harper shrugged off the concerns, saying “we have no evidence that supports the allegations.” While few detainees handed over by Canada have been shown in fact to be abused, much less tortured, the danger was real. Conservative complacency was indefensible. To this day we don’t know whether Canada should have been transferring prisoners.

In the latest twist to this sorry saga the Military Police Complaints Commission has just cleared eight military police officers of any misconduct for failing to intervene in the transfers, after a four-year probe. A report released on Wednesday by Chair Glenn Stannard exonerated the police, finding they were “marginalized” and left in the dark. Other Canadian officials tried to track how detainees were treated, but didn’t share what they knew with the police.

While it’s reassuring to know that the individual officers did no wrong, the probe had harsh words for the Harper government’s dismissive attitude toward investigating whether our troops might have been complicit in war crimes.

The commission found there was “a great deal of reliable information … to document the risk of ill-treatment of detainees.” Yet even so, Ottawa adopted “an overall attitude of antipathy … towards the Commission and its task, and a general, adversarial approach.” It put up “significant obstacles” to the probe, the report found. Officials blocked interviews with witnesses, refused to expedite proceedings, would not provide documents, delayed disclosure, disputed the relevance of documents and tried to have witnesses testify in secret.

“The Commission was mindful of the existence of a potential or actual conflict of interest between the government’s duty to produce documents to the Commission on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the self-interest it might have in slowing down or inhibiting disclosure of information deemed harmful to itself,” the report said.

In other words, the Conservative government stonewalled as if it had something to hide.
Title: Matt Gurney: Tories prefer a scandal-free military to an effective one
Post by: CVA_Posting on June 29, 2012, 08:28:28 AM
Matt Gurney: Tories prefer a scandal-free military to an effective one

Matt Gurney  Jun 28, 2012 – 12:48 PM ET | Last Updated: Jun 28, 2012 7:08 PM ET

http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/06/28/matt-gurney-soldiers-good-government-bad/

After more than five years, the Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC) has completed a review into the conduct of Canadian military police officers (MPs) during the war in Afghanistan. It had been alleged that Canadian military personnel turned over captured enemy soldiers, taken alive on the battlefield by Canadian forces, to Afghan military or intelligence personnel, who would then torture and abuse the prisoners. Under international and Canadian law, it is illegal to transfer a prisoner to a third party if there is a reasonable expectation that the prisoner will be abused, tortured or mistreated once transferred. The MPCC was investigating whether MPs acted in accordance with their duties or if they turned a blind eye to potential abuses.

The MPCC eventually came to a semi-happy conclusion: Whatever happened to prisoners taken by Canadians may not have been pretty once they left our custody, but the Canadian MPs acted properly and within the law when monitoring the transfer of prisoners. Abuses may well have happened, but they weren’t something that the MPs were in a position to reasonably prevent or monitor, due to a lack of information from higher military authorities. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the military, but at least the MPs themselves have been cleared of wrongdoing.

Not cleared of wrong doing, however, is the Harper government, which came in for plenty of criticism about its own conduct during the investigation. What a shock.

The MPCC’s enormous report, well over 500 pages, documents in detail not just their ultimate findings and recommendations for future improvements during Canadian Forces missions abroad (mainly better access to high-level information for MPs serving in theatre), but also the lengths the government went to to prevent the MPCC from conducting its investigation.

The MPCC, in theory tasked with investigating complaints about Canadian military police conduct and providing oversight, launched its investigation in 2007 after complaints were lodged by Canadian civil liberties groups. The government, from that moment on, did everything it could to frustrate the effort, including withholding relevant documents and compelling witnesses to not testify by using s. 38 of the Canada Evidence Act to have their testimony ruled inadmissible on national security grounds.

There’s more, but that gives you the flavour. The MPCC, which was created by the Liberals after the Somalia Affair of the 1990s, has a very limited mandate. It is not a full investigate agency. It requires the government’s co-operation to do its job properly, and without said co-operation, can’t do much.

Except, of course, upbraid the government for being totally unco-operative in the report it finally, belatedly releases. Which it’s done in spades.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay seized upon the good news to be found in the report, and lauded the fact that the Canadian MPs were cleared of any wrongdoing and found to been acting properly within their assigned duties. And, yes, that is good news, as far as it goes. But the report is much broader than that. If top military commanders were doing their best to keep the MPs in the dark about transfers, as the report claims, then that completely undercuts the notion that this is in some way a vindication for the troops. Just because the MPs were doing their jobs properly and legally doesn’t mean that they were doing them effectively.

You’d think the government would be bothered by that, but apparently, a scandal-free military is a higher priority than one that’s doing its job effectively. The way forward on this is to make sure that all elements of the military have proper oversight and training at all times, without any tolerance of obsessive secrecy from above or opportunity for officials, civilian or uniformed, to stonewall investigations.

Sadly, one suspects that this government, known to keep a secret or two itself, is probably not much inclined to tell the military to open up the information faucets a bit wider. And that’s the kicker. The report found that the military acted properly. That should be a good news story. But it isn’t, for no other reason than this government’s habit of treating everything like a military secret, even when it’s just a confirmation that professional, highly-trained Canadian soldiers did their country proud.

National Post
mgurney@nationalpost.com