What they said (V)

The issue of Governor Asadullah Khalid was raised three times during Afghanistan committee hearings last year. Specifically, the matter was pursued with Richard Colvin, Major-General David Fraser, the commander of Task Force Afghanistan for most of 2006, and ambassador David Mulroney, the former associate deputy minister for foreign affairs.

Herein, those exchanges.

Nov. 18, 2009.
Hon. Ujjal Dosanjh: … Did you ever have a chance to visit Asadullah Khalid, and did you know anything about what he was involved in?Mr. Richard Colvin: Yes, yes, I had lots of information on Mr. Khalid.

Hon. Ujjal Dosanjh: Can you tell us?

Mr. Richard Colvin: I believe so. In this forum I’m protected from libel. He was known to us very early on, in May and June 2006, as an unusually bad actor on human rights issues. He was known to have had a dungeon in Ghazni, his previous province, where he used to detain people for money, and some of them disappeared. He was known to be running a narcotics operation. He had a criminal gang. He had people killed who got in his way. And then in Kandahar we found out that he had indeed set up a similar dungeon under his guest house. He acknowledged this. When asked, he had sort of justifications for it, but he was known to personally torture people in that dungeon. So on a range of issues—governance, security, human rights—he was a serious problem, and there were efforts made to have him replaced, but those efforts were not successful.

Mr. Paul Dewar (Ottawa Centre, NDP): Thank you. Thank you to our witness. Thank you, Mr. Colvin, for appearing before us and finally shedding some light on a topic that many of us have tried to get more light shed upon. I want to go to the question around Mr. Asadullah Khalid, the Governor of Kandahar. You had grave concerns about him. You laid out why you had grave concerns. To whom did you pass on your concerns about him?

Mr. Richard Colvin: Some of those were passed on orally and some in written reporting.

Mr. Paul Dewar: Up the chain of command, so to speak?

Mr. Richard Colvin: Yes.

Mr. Paul Dewar: So the same recipients of the e-mails that you’d sent out?

Mr. Richard Colvin: Yes–not usually such a big distribution list, usually more tightly focused.

Mr. Paul Dewar: When did you first let it be known that you had concerns about him?

Mr. Richard Colvin: That’s a good question. I don’t have most of my reporting from the PRT, but I believe I wrote on it from the PRT, so that would have been probably June of 2006, certainly in the summer of 2006 and past.

Mr. Paul Dewar: So he stayed around for a little while after you had raised your concerns about him.

Mr. Richard Colvin: Yes, he was there when I arrived in April 2006 and he was still there when I left in October of 2007.

Hon. Ujjal Dosanjh: You mentioned Margaret Bloodworth’s name earlier. In what context?

Mr. Richard Colvin: We knew that The Globe and Mail’s reporting was coming in April. We had advance notice, so we had informed Ottawa—other people had to—and they developed a kind of detainee response. It was called a diplomatic contingency plan. That had been signed off by Margaret Bloodworth. There were a couple of occasions when it seemed like the key decisions on detainees were being taken by Margaret Bloodworth, and I think the discussions on Asadullah Khalid also went to Margaret Bloodworth.

Nov. 25, 2009.
Mr. Paul Dewar: … General Fraser, it came up in testimony the other day. There were two avenues of concerns around torture that seemed to be outlined. One was the handing over to the prisons and the reports we’ve referenced. I asked Mr. Colvin, the witness who was here at committee the other day, about this. The other was with Governor Khalid, and I asked him questions about that. Were you aware of the allegations, not around the prisons because we’ve established that, but around Governor Khalid? Did you hear allegations around Governor Khalid’s involvement in torture, and if so, how did you receive that information if that was the case?

MGen David Fraser: I didn’t receive any information about that.

Mr. Paul Dewar: So you never received allegations about Governor Khalid’s involvement in torture. That was the question I asked Mr. Colvin, because we have concerns obviously about Governor Khalid. But you never received information or allegations about torture with regard to Governor Khalid?

MGen David Fraser: Nothing came to my level.

Mr. Paul Dewar: Okay. Obviously, people were concerned about his conduct. I mean, you had heard about that, about Governor Khalid’s conduct.

MGen David Fraser: I dealt with the governors of the six southern provinces as part of my responsibility, including Khalid. He and I would meet several times a week.

Nov. 26, 2009.
Mr. Paul Dewar: … Do you remember concerns—and I asked one of the witnesses yesterday—about Governor Khalid? Were you aware of allegations regarding torture that Mr. Khalid was involved with? There were allegations about him having a dungeon. There were allegations of him involved in abuse: physical and otherwise. Were you aware of those allegations?

His Excellency David Mulroney: I was aware of those allegations. Those were fairly widespread in Afghanistan, and they were widespread about a lot of very senior people who had come out of 20 or 30 years of chaos. With respect to those allegations, let me say a couple of things. We asked the PRT and others to investigate. People went to the governor’s mansion and they in fact looked inside the governor’s mansion. Despite those allegations, we could not find any evidence that we could bring to the Afghan government. What was important, though, was that we were pushing very hard to ensure our relationship with the governor was based on expectations we expected him to meet in terms of his obligations to the Government of Afghanistan, its constitution, and international law.

Mr. Paul Dewar: Did you have access to his facility?

His Excellency David Mulroney: We visited his residence. We didn’t see any facility—

Mr. Paul Dewar: Not the so-called dungeon.

His Excellency David Mulroney: We spoke to people at a very high level in Kabul to express our concerns about these allegations, but we were never able to find any specific item that we could point to.