Canadian Forces release detainee statistics

This month, the Canadian Forces (CF) released statistics on individuals detained by the CF in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2008 after it was decided that releasing the numbers no longer posed a threat to operations abroad.

It has since been announced that statistics regarding detainees will be released on an annual basis after being held for a period of 12 months. The numbers will include those individuals who have been detained, released by the CF, transferred or are deceased.

Laurier professor of global studies Timothy Donais said that the release of the numbers is likely part of a “broader political game that’s being played.”
“This has less to do with the rights of detainees and more about politics,” he said, adding that the current Conservative government will use the numbers to advocate the mission’s transparency while the Liberal opposition will attempt to call attention to the human rights abuses which have historically occurred after detainee transfers.

The report released stated, “individuals detained by the Canadian Forces are handled and transferred or released in accordance with our obligations under international law.” This includes a post-transfer monitoring program, called the Diplomatic Contingency Plan, which was developed in May 2007 after allegations of abuse of a Canadian-transferred detainee.

“We’ve heard a lot through the [Richard] Colvin testimony and other testimony about this issue in front of parliamentary committees,” said Mark Sedra, senior fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI).

“We’ve heard some pretty damning things about what went on in terms of the transfer of the detainees to Afghan authorities,” he said.

In an effort to avoid these types of incidences, since the program began Canadian officials have conducted over 260 visits to detention facilities, conducting more than 265 detainee interviews.

Detainee transfers were also suspended on one occasion between November 2007 and February 2008 and paused by the Canadian Commander of Task Force Kandahar on three occasions in 2009.

The CF reported that data on detainees had not been released until this month due to a need to “maintain a high level of security for military operations in Theatre” and to protect CF personnel, civilians and allies in Afghanistan.

“Canadians are probably getting a little bit cynical about it,” said Donais of the mission in Afghanistan.

Agreeing, Sedra commented that the release of the numbers could strengthen suspicion or sentiments of frustration towards Canada and NATO’s role in Afghanistan.

“It could also show to the Canadian public that this is a part of warfare in this area and it’s a challenging area of world,” he concluded.

Canadian Forces detainee statistics; 2001 -2008

2001
No individuals detained by the Canadian Forces.

2002
17 individuals were detained, five were released, 12 were transferred.

2003
Four individuals were detained, all were released.

2004
The CF detained 39 individuals, 18 were released, 21 were transferred.

2005
Eight individuals detained, one was released, seven were transferred.

2006
142 individuals detained, 11 were released, 129 were transferred. Two individuals died at the Role 3 hospital as a result of injuries suffered on the battlefield.

2007
142 individuals detained, 43 were released, 96 were transferred.
Three individuals were detained near the close of 2007. These individuals are counted as “detained” in 2007 and “transferred” in 2008.
 

2008
87 individuals detained, 71 were released, 18 were transferred.
One individual was detained near the close of 2008, included in the 2008 “detained” and will be accounted for as a “transfer” in the 2009.

This data is based on a thorough review of all available records dating back to 2001.

Since May 2007, when monitoring began, Canadian officials have conducted more than 260 visits to detention facilities, conducting more than 265 interviews with detainees.

Current as of September 2010

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