As anyone who reads the news knows, it has been alleged that many detainees passed on by Canadian troops to elements of the government of Afghanistan were subsequently tortured, and that the government of Canada was aware of this likelihood. If true, that could represent a violation of Canadian and/or international law on the part of both those who gave the orders to continue making the transfers and those who actually carried them out. Knowingly passing along a prisoner to an authority that will torture and abuse them is a violation of the Geneva Conventions, but it is not yet fully known what Canadian troops and officials knew or believed prior to making these transfers.
The latest development is a reversal of position by Walter Natynczyk, Canada’s Chief of the Defence Staff. He now accepts that a man was taken into custody by Canadian soldiers in 2006 and subsequently severely beaten by Afghan interrogators.
Given that Canada cannot single-handedly reform the Afghan government and security services, this raises the question of how Canadian troops should be dealing with anyone who they capture during the course of Canada’s ongoing involvement in that country. Given that Afghanistan won’t be turning into a liberal-democratic state governed by the rule of law anytime soon, how should Canadian forces deployed there behave in the future?