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Canada government stalling Afghan detainee torture case: Amnesty

[JURIST] The Canadian government is trying to derail a lawsuit over whether the Canadian Army [official website] in Afghanistan is transferring custody of detainees to Afghan forces to face torture by bogging it down with a flurry of technical arguments, Amnesty International Canada [advocacy website] said Thursday. Amnesty and the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association [advocacy website] brought complaints against the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal (CFPM) [official website] in Federal Court [official website] in February, alleging complicity in torture by Canadian personnel serving in Afghanistan as part of the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Amnesty alleges that Canada is violating its Charter of Rights and Freedoms [text] by denying Afghan detainees access to legal counsel and protection against cruel and unusual punishment. Canadian government lawyers have asked the court to dismiss the case before it reaches the constitutional issues, arguing that the Charter does not apply to Canadian forces in Afghanistan because the army is not an occupying power in Afghanistan.

Last month, the Canadian Army said that independent investigators have found no evidence [JURIST report] to support allegations [JURIST report] that the Army "may have aided or abetted the torture of detainees" by transferring them from Canadian to Afghan custody. The transfer scandal erupted in April when the Toronto Globe and Mail reported [text] that more than 30 terrorism suspects had been tortured by Afghan investigators after being transferred from Canadian custody. Following public outcry, Canada signed a new agreement regarding detainee transfers [JURIST report] with the Afghan government, giving Canada the right to inspect detainees following their transfer. A separate investigation regarding detainee abuse while in Canadian custody is ongoing [JURIST report]. The Canadian Press 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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