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Afghan torture claim prompts calls for Canada defense chief resignation

[JURIST] Thirty terror suspects were tortured by Afghan security forces after being being transferred from Canadian custody, the Toronto Globe and Mail reported [text] Monday. The detainees gave accounts of being beaten, electrocuted, starved, and left in freezing temperatures while detained in Kandahar province jails. The report prompted calls for the resignation of Canadian Defense Minister Gordon O'Connor [official profile] by Canadian opposition members from the New Democratic Party, Liberal Party [party websites], and Bloc Québécois [party website, in French]. Opposition MPs also called for an end to the prison transfers and for a public inquiry to be held. O'Connor and Prime Minister Stephen Harper [official website] maintain that Canadian troops did nothing wrong but pledged to investigate the allegations.

In February the Canadian government ordered an official inquiry [JURIST report] into reported detainee abuse in Afghanistan. The probe began following a civilian complaint filed by University of Ottawa law professor Amir Attaran [Sourcewatch profile], whose research [Globe and Mail report] uncovered a pattern of suspicious injuries on three detainees captured last April and later released. In 2005, Chief of Defense Staff Gen. Rick Hillier [official profile] signed the Canada-Afghanistan Detainee Agreement [text] authorizing the transfers; Attaran said the agreement did not give Canada the power to inspect detainees [JURIST report] after their transfers, thus allowing broad latitude for torture to occur. CBC News has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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