Envoys given manual on `torture awareness'
Guantanamo, China, Iran, Israel listed as possible sites for abuse
National Security Reporter
Jan 17, 2008
While Canada's foreign affairs officials publicly state they accept U.S. assurances that Toronto-born detainee Omar Khadr is being treated humanely, consular officials are being warned privately that Guantanamo Bay is a possible site of torture.
A Foreign Affairs Department training manual titled "Torture Awareness Workshop Reference Materials," gives the legal definitions of torture and instructs consular officials how to detect signs of abuse of Canadians detained abroad.
Under the heading, "Possible Torture/Abuse Cases," the manual lists Afghanistan, China, Egypt, Guantanamo Bay, Iran, Israel, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Syria and United States.
Since Khadr's capture in July 2002, the Canadian government has accepted assurances from the U.S. government that he is being treated humanely despite the international outcry over allegations of abuse at Guantanamo.
Khadr told his lawyers that he was abused during interrogations at Guantanamo and was once left shackled for hours until he urinated on himself. When the guards returned, Khadr alleged, he had cleaning solvent poured on him and was then used as a "human mop."
"It is disgraceful that Canada, well-aware that torture takes place in Guantanamo, has been silent about protecting Omar Khadr's rights," Khadr's Canadian lawyer, Dennis Edney, said yesterday.
"They knew that torture is alive and well."
The Canadian Press reported the manual was inadvertently released to lawyers working on a lawsuit involving abuse of Afghanistan detainees by Canadians ...
3 days later:
Canada to take Israel off torture list
By MARK WEISS, Jerusalem Post
Jan. 20, 2008
Canada plans to remove both Israel and the US from a list drawn up by the Foreign Ministry in Ottawa of countries where prisoners risk torture and abuse.
On Saturday Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier issued a statement apologizing for the fact that the two Canadian allies were included in a training manual list on torture awareness distributed to Canadian diplomats and other organizations, including Amnesty International.
"I regret the embarrassment caused by the public disclosure of the manual used in the department's torture awareness training," the foreign minister said. "It contains a list that wrongly includes some of our closest allies. I have directed that the manual be reviewed and rewritten. The manual is neither a policy document nor a statement of policy. As such, it does not convey the government's views or positions."
A Foreign Ministry spokesman in Jerusalem noted that both Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met with Bernier in Jerusalem last week and Bernier did not raise the issue of torture and Israeli human rights policy during the discussions.
Michael Mendel, the Israeli Embassy spokesman in Ottawa, commented on Israel's initial inclusion in the list by noting that 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.
The Canadian Foreign Affairs Department document, released Friday, singled out the US detention center at Guantanamo Bay. It also named Israel, Afghanistan, China, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Syria as places where inmates could face torture.
The listing also drew a sharp response from the US, a key Canadian NATO ally and trading partner, which asked to be 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," US Ambassador David Wilkins said. "For us to be on a list like that is just ridiculous."
He said the US 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.
The Canadian 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.