NATO Order Last Year Ended Canadian Transfer of Taliban Prisoners to Afghans: Canada Giving Taliban Prisoners to U.S

By Brewster, Murray | The Canadian Press, June 11, 2012 | Go to article overview

NATO Order Last Year Ended Canadian Transfer of Taliban Prisoners to Afghans: Canada Giving Taliban Prisoners to U.S


Brewster, Murray, The Canadian Press


OTTAWA - Canadian troops quietly stopped handing captured Taliban fighters over to Afghan authorities in mid-2011, almost six months before the Harper government publicly acknowledged the change to the controversial policy.

An order by NATO's southern command in Afghanistan ultimately ended the politically incendiary practice of turning the prisoners over to the Afghans.

The halt to transfers happened just as the Canadian combat mission in Kandahar drew to a close and U.S. forces took full control of the restive province.

NATO, in a sweeping July 2011 directive, ordered all units to cease handovers to the notorious Afghan intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security, and to the Afghan National Police and Afghan Border Police.

Canada's top military commander, Gen. Walt Natynczyk, "deemed it was appropriate to Canadian-captured detainees to be redirected to another facility," said a July 15, 2011, briefing note prepared for Defence Minister Peter MacKay.

Diplomats at Foreign Affairs began negotiations almost immediately to send prisoners to a U.S. detention facility in Parwan, located outside of Bagram Airfield, north of Kabul.

The Americans have since agreed to give control of the prison and its 3,000 detainees to the Afghans.

The change in Canada's policy, which Conservatives fought hard to defend throughout the war, was not announced publicly until December. Critics found the timing curious, especially since chances were slim that soldiers involved in the new training mission would be taking prisoners.

A statement from National Defence, issued Monday night, said the transfer of prisoners to Afghan authorities by Canadians was suspended just before the NATO directive was issued.

"In early July 2011, information concerning the possible mistreatment of Afghan detainees -- not Canadian-transferred detainees -- raised the Canadian chain of command's concern," said spokesperson Morgan Bailey.

"We ceased transfers as a result."

The agreement also brought the federal government full circle. In the early stages of the Afghan campaign, Canada sent captured Taliban fighters to American custody, but when torture allegations and scandals erupted at U. …

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