OTTAWA (CN) – Eight senior officers of the Canadian military police want clear standards on how their conduct will be measured in cases accusing them of transferring detainees captured in Canada to places in Afghanistan where the prisoners might be tortured or otherwise mistreated.
Amnesty International Canada and the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association have accused the former and current officers of transferring or allowing the transfer of detainees to Afghan authorities, despite knowing they faced potential abuse.
The officers, including a retired lieutenant colonel and a retired master warrant officer, seek review of the Military Police Complaints Commission’s refusal this June to clarify the standards for investigating what officers knew or should have known about the risk of potential detainee mistreatment.
The officers say any investigations should be limited to the “proper subjects” of a complaint — the accused officers — and should not venture into what other officers “knew or could reasonably be expected to have known” about the risk of detainee mistreatment.
They say narrow scope of inquiries was outlined in September 2009 ruling by the Federal Court of Canada, which barred the commission from “using its investigation as a ‘springboard’ to investigate government policy at large.”
“Nevertheless, the commission continues to demand disclosure of information relating to the risk of mistreatment potentially faced by detainees transferred to Afghan authorities,” the officers claim in Federal Court, “regardless of whether this information was known to the [officers] or whether they reasonably had means of knowing it.”
The commission has issued summonses calling for the production of 16 categories of documents, many of which relate to the Canadian government’s policy on the transfer of Canadian-captured detainees, the officers claim in their petition for judicial review.
They say the commission’s investigations are too broad and are “contrary” to the court’s 2009 decision limiting what information the commission can seek.
“By refusing to rule on the standard of conduct at this time, the commission is effectively preventing the [officers] from knowing the case they must meet while it continues to call evidence regarding their conduct,” the petition states.
This denies accused officers the right to a fair hearing, they claim.
They demand a clear explanation of the standards that will be used to assess their conduct, and an order barring the commission from expanding its investigations to officers not listed in the complaints.
The officers are represented by Myles Kirvan, deputy attorney general of Canada.