‘I have not seen those reports’

The Defence Minister tells Canadian Press he never saw Richard Colvin’s reports on the treatment of detainees in Afghan prisons. CP points out that he was equally unaware of a Foreign Affairs annual report on human reports that also flagged torture.

MacKay, who was foreign minister at the time, insisted Thursday that he knew nothing of the documents. “I have not seen those reports in either my capacity as minister of National Defence or previously as minister of Foreign Affairs,” he said in a telephone interview from Halifax. “I can’t speak for other ministers.”

Richard Colvin, who is now an intelligence officer at the Canadian embassy in Washington, wrote in May 2006 that the allegations of torture regarding Afghan prisoners were “serious, imminent and alarming.” He followed it up with another warning in early June 2006, almost a full year before the federal government acknowledged the problem. Colvin said he spoke with prisoners who claimed to have been tortured by their jailers and that inmates showed physical signs of abuse.

… The Foreign Affairs Department produces annual reports on human rights in individual developing countries and the 2006 review on Afghanistan specific flagged that country’s prison system as rife with torture. The following year as MacKay was questioned about it in the House of Commons he denied having read that document as well, despite it having been widely circulated in his own department.

Gordon O’Connor tells Global he too was unaware of Colvin’s reports.

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