Saturday, January 19, 2008

Canada manual: US prisoners face torture

By ROB GILLIES, Associated Press Jan 18, 2008

TORONTO - A training manual for Canadian diplomats lists the United
States as a country where prisoners risk torture and abuse, citing
interrogation techniques such as stripping prisoners, blindfolding
and sleep deprivation.

The Foreign Affairs Department document, released Friday, singled out
the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay. It also names Israel,
Afghanistan, China, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Syria as
places where inmates could face torture.

The listing drew a sharp response from the U.S., a key NATO ally and
trading partner, which asked to removed from the manual.

"We find it to be offensive for us to be on the same list with
countries like Iran and China. Quite frankly it's absurd," U.S.
Ambassador David Wilkins told The Associated Press. "For us to be on
a list like that is just ridiculous."

He said the U.S. does not authorize or condone torture. "We think it
should be removed and we've made that request. We have voiced our
opinion very forcefully," Wilkins said.

Michael Mendel, the Israeli Embassy spokesman, said Israel's Supreme
Court "is on record as expressly prohibiting any type of torture. If
Israel is included in the list in question, the ambassador of Israel
would expect its removal," he said.

A Canadian citizen, Omar Khadr, is in custody at Guantanamo, but
Canada has long publicly said it accepts U.S. assurances that Khadr
is being treated humanely.

The government inadvertently released the manual to lawyers for
Amnesty International who are working on a lawsuit involving alleged
abuse of Afghan detainees by local Afghan authorities, after the
detainees were handed over by Canadian troops.

Canada said the manual is for training, and does not amount to
official government policy.

"It is not a policy document or any kind of a statement of policy. As
such it does not convey the government's views or positions," said
Neil Hrab, a spokesman for Canada's Foreign Affairs Department.

"The training manual purposely raised public issues to stimulate
discussion and debate in the classroom."

Human rights groups have long called on Canada to pressure the United
States to return Khadr from Guantanamo. They say Canada has not done
enough for Khadr, who has been in custody since he was 15. Khadr is
accused of tossing a grenade that killed one U.S. soldier and wounded
another in Afghanistan in 2002.

He is the son of an alleged al-Qaida financier, and his family has
received little sympathy in Canada, where they've been called the
"First Family of Terrorism."

Dennis Edney, one of Khadr's lawyers, said the foreign affairs
document shows that Canada says one thing publicly but believes
something else privately.

"Canada was well aware that Omar Khadr's allegations of being
tortured had a ring of truth to it. Canada has not once raised the
protection of Omar Khadr when there are such serious allegations,"
Edney said. "What does that say to you about Canada's commitment to
the rule of law and human rights? It talks on both sides of its face."

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