Canada takes fewer prisoners in Afghanistan: report

OTTAWA (AFP) — Canada’s military in Afghanistan has been taking fewer prisoners and releasing them quicker after it stopped turning them over to Afghan authorities following torture allegations, The Globe and Mail said.

Unidentified sources told The Globe and Mail that Canadian military were holding insurgents captured in Afghanistan at Kandahar Air Force base, “rather than turning them over to the Afghan authorities.”

The Canadian military “are taking fewer prisonners and are quickly releasing some of them,” the daily added.

Prisoner transfers ended in November after “a credible allegation of mistreatment pertaining to one Canadian-transferred detainee held in an Afghan detention facility,” the Justice Ministry wrote to civil right groups last week.

The information, however, was not made public until a day before a court hearing last week that the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) and Amnesty International Canada had pressed for on the matter.

The Justice Ministry’s letter drew fire from the opposition, which demanded the government provide clear and up-to-the-minute information about the prisoners it held in Afghanistan. The government refused.

Canada in May signed a new agreement with Afghanistan on prisoner rights after Canadian media in early 2007 began reporting on prisoner claims of torture in Afghan detention facilities after being transferred there by Canadian military.

The May agreement is still being enforced, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Monday, adding that prisoner transfers to Afghan authorities could resume when Canadian commanders deem it appropriate.

Canada currently has 2,500 troops deployed in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban.

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