Seeking Answers

I asked Where do Canada’s Prisoners Go? the other day, and alevo suggested I write some letters to find out, so I did.

I wrote to The Honourable Gordon O’Connor, Minister of National Defence; General Rick Hillier, CHIEF OF THE DEFENCE STAFF (the Department of Defence’s website uses all-caps for his title, so I did too – I imagine this is because army folks shout a lot); and Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada (who, among other roles, is Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Forces).

Here is a copy of the letter which I sent out last night:


Dear Minister,

Re. Canadian Detainees in Afghanistan

As of February 28, the multi-national forces deployed in Southern Afghanistan, which include 2300 Canadian soldiers, are under the command of Canadian Brigadier-General David Fraser.

Many Canadians, including myself, are ignorant of Canada’s policies regarding people detained during this mission by Canadian forces. I hope you will be able to remedy this.

In particular, I would appreciate answers to the following questions:

  1. On September 30, 2005, Bill Graham, at the time Minister of National Defence, said that individuals captured by Canadian forces that are deemed to be of interest are “turned over to either Afghan or American authorities”. Is this still the policy of Canadian forces in Afghanistan?
  2. Assuming this is still the policy, what criteria are used to determine whether an individual is handed over to Afghan or American authorities?
  3. Does Canada make any stipulations regarding captives after they have left the custody of Canadian forces? If so, what are they?
  4. Are any individuals captured by Canadian forces imprisoned at the American detention facility at Bagram? Have any been imprisoned there in the past?
  5. Are any individuals captured by Canadian forces imprisoned in Afghanistan’s largest prison, Pul-i-Charkhi, in Kabul? Have any been imprisoned there in the past?
  6. What status is given to individuals captured by Canadian forces in Afghanistan that are deemed to be a threat? Are these individuals deemed prisoners of war, suspected criminals, enemy combatants, or something else?
  7. Who is responsible for determining the status of individuals captured by Canadian forces?
  8. What detention facilities does Canada operate in Afghanistan?

Your attention to these questions is appreciated.

Sincerely, etc.

CC :

Amnesty International,
Canadian Red Cross,
The Hon. Vic Toews, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations Office at Geneva

Thanks to alevo for his assistance.

I will let you know when I get a reply!

5 Responses to “Seeking Answers”
  1. wemi:

    good luck!

  2. alevo:

    After the Prime Minsiter’s sternly worded press conference yesterday, I would think he might deserve a letter too.

    He called Canada’s role in Afghanistan “imperative to our global duties.” But, as we discussed that evening Ade, I’m not sure what Canada is (functionally) doing in Afghanistan.

    I heard some Tory talking heads speak at a lunch I attended today. They were effusive to point out that the Harper government views foreign relations through a domestic lens. That is to say, Harper’s diplomatic agenda is concerned with trade and little else. Given the afformentioned statements made by the PM, I have a hard time buying their spin.

    I think this government’s foreign policy (other than Can-Am relations) is going to be underemphasized – on purpose. They will avoid the subject all together. Further, there is going to be little face-time for anyone to ask questions. The House of Commons will only sit for 6 weeks before a summer recess.

    I’ll be very interested to see the variety (or similarity) of responses you receive.

  3. Ade:

    General Rick Hillier was reported in the Globe today as saying the Canadian mission in Afghanistan will take at least 10 years.

    According to the story:

    [General Hillier] added that terms like “war” and “peacekeeping” are outdated, at least when it comes to describing the long list of jobs his soldiers will be doing.

    Which struck me as rather odd.

  4. drt:

    General Rick Hillier
    Gordon O’Connor
    Minister of National Defence
    National Defence Headquarters
    Major-General George R. Pearkes Building
    101 Colonel By Drive
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    K1A 0K2

    Dear Idiots,

    You have got to be joking!

    Are you stupid, or something?

    You would go into an area, sit on the ground, with no one protecting your back?

    Do you idiots have any training in Military Strategy?

    How to hell are toys and soccer balls given as gifts going to protect you?

    It reminds me of that idiot Ralph Klein trying to impress the Olympic Committee with a sausage breakfast and straw cowboy hats, while the other countries were placing $1M bribes in tha back pockets of the Olympic Committee members?

    Let’s grow up Canada, you are playing with the “big boys” now!

    You had better get over this idiotic UN mentality, you are in a war zone area!

    And, wars take in a lot more than traditional warfare, you are now talking about insurgence, with the full knowledge and approval of the Village elders!

    You should have realized this Hillier!

    As for the new Defense Minister and the new Prime Minister, they had better learn quickly, if they can?

    First off, Harper had better get rid of that smirk he has on his face, he looks guilty, like the cat that swallowed the canary!

    Let’s not display to the world that you are absolute morons!

    What to hell were the other soldiers doing when this guy took his axe out of his clothes, waved it above his head, and then struck Lieut. Trevor Greene?

    Were they picking their nose?

    It appears that this idiot Schamuhn was doing just that!

    “He came out of the crowd and pulled out an axe from underneath his clothing and lifted it above his head standing right behind Trevor,” said Capt. Kevin Schamuhn, the platoon commander who was sitting at Greene’s side. [CA/News/WorldNewsArticle.htm?src=w030469A.xml]

    All of this takes time, giving those standing around sufficient time to kill the bastard with the axe LONG BEFORE he has struck!

    “The guy lifted up the axe and cried out the ‘Allah Akbar,’ the jihad prayer before they commit suicide. And he swung the axe into Trevor’s head.”

    Wasn’t anyone protecting this guys back!

    This idiot Putt doesn‘t seem to get it yet!

    “We would classify it is absolutely cowardly, a maniac I guess is safe to say,” said Col. Tom Putt, the deputy commander of Canadian forces in Afghanistan.

    Of course it’s a cowardly act, the enemy are insurgence and are not about to give you an invitation to their activities!

    Get with the program idiots!

    You are war!

    “The area in question has been one of the transit routes for some time for the Taliban,” Putt said.

    If you know it is Taliban territory, why would you put your guard down!

    Just plain stupid!

    Why should young Canadian soldiers put their lives in the hands of idiots like you?