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Foreign Affairs

Public inquiry needed to get to bottom of Afghan torture scandal

Posted on November 19, 2009

An independent public inquiry must be called to get to the bottom of the Afghan torture scandal in order to restore Canada’s human rights record and trust in government, Liberal MPs said today.

“It’s now clear that Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin was muzzled with every effort made to prevent him from documenting his findings or report them publically – but the story on why this was covered up still has yet to be told,” said Liberal Foreign Affairs Critic Bob Rae.

“By abandoning detainees to face torture, the Harper government has lost all credibility on human rights and now Canada’s global reputation has been seriously damaged. It’s going to take years to repair our leadership position, and a public inquiry will be the first step towards that repair,” Mr. Rae said.

Liberal MP Irwin Cotler said Canada acted responsibly when the previous Liberal government called an inquiry into the deportation and torture of Maher Arar, and Canada must do so again.

“Getting to the bottom of what happened to Mr. Arar was important to Canadians in order to restore their confidence in their government and the administration of justice.  It was important to the international community to know that we would not be part of any cover up,” said Mr. Cotler.

“As a country that has long prided itself on its defence of human rights around the world – for the promotion and protection of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – we have a duty to get to the bottom of this scandal.”

Liberal Defence Critic Ujjal Dosanjh said that the Conservatives’ complicity in allowing these transfers to continue undermines Canada’s mission to bring democracy and respect for the rule of law to Afghanistan.

The Conservatives ongoing effort to cover up what happened has also led them to attack Richard Colvin, who has served Canada with distinction and courageously brought this information to light, he added.

“We owe it to both our troops and our diplomatic corps to have all the facts aired at an independent public inquiry,” said Mr. Dosanjh.

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