I gave the Conservative government a hard time about the alleged torture of Canada’s detainees by the authorities in Afghanistan.
I should follow up to say that the Conservatives have fixed the problem. They signed a new agreement with the Afghan government last week:
The new deal transforms Canada into the standard-bearer for all foreign countries in the monitoring of transferred prisoners in Afghanistan. …
For the first time, Canada can now veto the onward transfer of detainees. For instance, Afghanistan could not deliver an al-Qaeda suspect to the United States “without the prior written agreement of the Government of Canada.”
Even more sweeping is the right of Canadian officials to have unrestricted access in all “detention facilities where detainees transferred by Canadian Forces are held.”
The deal also calls on the Afghans to hold transferred detainees in “a limited number of facilities,” a tough restriction in Afghanistan, where there are literally hundreds of jails, ranging from local lockups run by warlords to sprawling prisons and some secret, and reportedly brutal, detention centres. …
Meanwhile, Afghanistan … has accepted that Canadian monitors be allowed to interview transferred detainees privately. In effect, the secret police colonel — who may terrify a hapless captive — can be turfed out of the cell by Canadian monitors.
Good for the Conservatives for fixing the problem (instead of continuing to deny there was a problem). And good for the Afghan government for agreeing to these extraordinary conditions — a sign that they value the good will of the Government and the people of Canada.
Also, kudos to the Globe and Mail, which can take credit for forcing the Government to act. I’ve already lauded the Globe and Mail for its handling of this story, but it’s worth pointing out that they got results. A free press is a powerful tool, when the media takes its responsibilities seriously.