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Canada court allows rights groups to challenge military over alleged Afghan abuse

[JURIST] The Federal Court of Canada ruled [PDF text] Monday that Amnesty International and the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association [advocacy website] should be granted public interest standing to seek judicial review of the actions or potential actions of Canadian military personnel deployed in Afghanistan, rejecting the Canadian government's motion to strike the rights groups' application on the grounds that the groups lacked standing and the issue was political in nature. The court also rejected the government's contention that the suit was "so clearly improper as to be bereft of any possibility of success." The rights groups argue that Canadian forces deployed in Afghanistan are bound by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms [text] and allege that Canadian personnel transferring Afghan prisoners have violated the Charter's prohibition against the deprivation of life, liberty, and security of the person except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice [Section 7] and the prohibition against cruel and unusual treatment or punishment [Section 12].

In October, the Canadian government rejected allegations that Afghan detainees captured by Canadian troops were tortured by Afghan interrogators after being transferred from Canadian custody. In February, allegations of detainee mistreatment [JURIST report] surfaced suggesting that more than 30 terrorism suspects had been tortured after being transferred. An independent investigation found no evidence [press release; JURIST report] that the Canadian military "aided or abetted the torture of detainees." As a result of 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. The Canadian government however, has limited an ongoing probe [JURIST report] to detainee abuse allegations under Canadian custody. New abuse allegations arose last month, but the Canadian government has denied the claims [JURIST report], saying that Taliban detainees frequently make false accusations of torture. The Canadian Press has more.

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