Torture and Afghan detainees: The need for a public inquiry

Afghan Detainee Documents 20100614

A new report, entitled Torture of Afghan Detainees: Canada’s Alleged Complicity and the Need for a Public Inquiryhas just been released by the Rideau Institute and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Written by Omar Sabry, a human rights researcher and advocate based in Ottawa, the study identifies the need for government accountability and non-impunity for alleged breaches of international and national law in relation to the transfer of Afghan detainees despite substantial risks that they might be tortured.

In transferring hundreds to the custody of the NDS in Kandahar, Canada failed to prevent the torture of many Afghan detainees,” said Sabry.

The government occasionally suspended transfers for various reasons, including disturbing allegations of abuse, but then resumed transfers on at least six occasions. The government’s conduct in this regard was haphazard and unprincipled, in addition to being in violation of international law.”

The study recommends that the Government of Canada launch a transparent and impartial judicial commission of inquiry into the actions of Canadian officials, including ministers of the Crown, relating to Afghan detainees. The government should also develop clear policies that would prevent future reliance on diplomatic assurances against torture, including in situations involving armed conflict and extradition, and reaffirm Canada’s commitment to the prohibition of torture by immediately signing and ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

In commenting on the report, Peggy Mason, the President of Rideau Institute stated:

While there is no “new” information or “smoking gun” in this report, there is ample evidence of the Harper government’s systematic efforts  to keep parliament and the public in the dark. We believe this is unfinished business of the most serious kind – accountability for alleged serious breaches of international and national law – the only appropriate remedy for which is a public inquiry.


See also the article by Peter Mazereeuw, “Report calls for inquiry into Afghan detainee transfers”, (Embassy News, 23 September 2015); “Report calls for full inquiry into Afghan detainee torture scandal”, (Amanda Connolly,, 23 September, 2015) and “Fresh calls for inquiry into allegations Canada was complicit in torture of Afghan prisoners” (Jake Bleiberg, Vice, 23 September, 2015). See also The High Cost of Stephen Harper’s Foreign Policy: Siddiqui (Toronto Star, 27 Sept 2015).

For the PDF of the report, click here.

For the press release:



For the executive summary:




For more information contact:

Omar Sabry, Human rights researcher and advocate, at 343-540-8306 (cell) or

Peggy Mason, President of the Rideau Institute, 613-565-9449 ext. 24, 613-612-6360 (cell), or

Kerri-Anne Finn, CCPA Senior Communications Officer, at 613-563-1341 x306 or 613-266-9491


Tags: Afghan detainees, Afghanistan, Canada, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, detainees, Human rights, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, international law, International law and human rights, Kandahar, Kerri-Anne Finn, Omar Sabry, Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Peggy Mason, public inquiry, report, Rideau Insitute, study, Torture, Torture inquiry, Torture of Afghan detainees, Torture of Afghan Detainees: Canada's Alleged Complicity and the Need for a Public Inquiry, Transfer of Afghan Detainees