'We take all allegations seriously'

Gen. Walter Natynczyk’s statement on yesterday’s testimony at the special committee on Afghanistan.

Recent public comments have made grave accusations against the men and women of the Canadian Forces. As Chief of the Defence Staff, I can assure all Canadians that we take all allegations seriously and will investigate new allegations appropriately.

The Canadian Forces have always been and remain committed to ensuring that detainees are handled and transferred in accordance with our obligations under international law. Whenever there have been specific allegations of ill treatment, the Canadian Forces have not hesitated to act.

The Canadian Forces hold themselves to the highest level of professional conduct and have conducted themselves with bravery and compassion. We are committed to ensuring detainees are handled and transferred in accordance with our obligations under international law.

The Canadian Forces operate on facts, not innuendo. Senior military officers have commented honestly, publicly and – perhaps most importantly – on the record – about their knowledge of the issues and the actions they took on the ground.

Canadian Forces members have testified before different Canadian bodies in the past – and will testify in the future as required – to the evolution of the Afghan detainee file as well as the specific actions taken to improve and reinforce our arrangements. It is through these formalized processes that a complete picture of the detainee issue can be ascertained: not through viewing a specific document or e-mail in isolation.

The men and women of uniform are in harm’s way in Afghanistan. Therefore, there is a fundamental obligation to safeguard operationally sensitive information, as its release – either through witness testimony or documentation – could jeopardize the lives of our men and women serving in Afghanistan.

The Canadian Forces, as part of the whole of government team continue to work with our Afghan partners to improve security, governance and development, and does so while upholding the values of justice, respect for human rights, the rule of law and the dignity of the individual. Those values are reflected in our conduct toward detainees, and in our continuing work to assist our Afghan partners in developing their own institutions.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.