Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The latest twist in the detainee scandal

Richard Colvin, the diplomat who says he warned the government that detainees were being tortured, is being barred from discussing material that could corroborate his story:

Franz Kafka would have been proud to have penned an episode from Tuesday's Afghan detainee hearings where the government sought to undermine testimony from one of its own civil servants.

The catch, for the civil servant, is he can't talk about information the government has censored. Even if it could vindicate him.

As readers will know, the Harper government has censored diplomat Richard Colvin's email records and won't even let the Military Police Complaints Commission see the unredacted versions. This is the civilian-run watchdog charged with reviewing Canada's record on Afghan detainees.

Just before a couple of prickly exchanges take place (transcript below), Department of Justice lawyer Alain Préfontaine argues Mr. Colvin did not provide clear warning to Ottawa in 2006 that Canadian-transferred detainees were at serious risk of abuse. Using the censored version of the email records, the government lawyer says Mr. Colvin's warnings weren't that urgently or sharply worded.

Defending himself, Mr. Colvin says the censored portions of his emails bear out his assertion that he offered significant warnings. He is barred from speaking about these blacked out passages, however.

Source. Let's hope the public doesn't forget this come election time.

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