Torture file: Colvin shoots back; government ducks

colvinletterdec09The Canadian diplomat whose mid-November testimony to the Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan ignited a firestorm of controversy over Canadian transfers of Afghan detainees to probable torture by the Afghan authorities has fired back at his critics. In a 16-page letter sent to the committee, Richard Colvin provided a detailed rebuttal to the “inaccurate or incomplete” testimony provided to the committee by subsequent witnesses who sought to discredit his account and question his motivations.

In the meantime, the Harper government has switched from the attack to ducking the issue as hard as it can. Two weeks ago the Prime Minister chose to defy a House of Commons motion that called on the government to convene a judicial inquiry on the issue. Last week the government defied a motion that called on it to release uncensored documents to the special committee. And yesterday the Conservative members of the committee decided to boycott committee meetings during the Christmas parliamentary recess, effectively scuttling the plan to continue hearings while Parliament is not sitting. (Parliament is not scheduled to resume sitting until 25 January.)

“It’s not the time to be having meetings that are implying, intentioned or not, that Canadians are somehow guilty of war crimes,” said Laurie Hawn,  parliamentary secretary for Defence Minister Peter MacKay. (Maybe he thinks it’s a job for the International Criminal Court instead?)

It is even rumoured that the government may prorogue Parliament again, shutting down all operations until as late as March, which would prevent further investigation of the scandal for three or more months.

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