Canada fights lawsuit on Afghan prisoners: Amnesty
By David Ljunggren
OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada has halted the transfer of people detained by its troops in Afghanistan to Afghan authorities because of torture fears, but it is still fighting human rights groups who want to ban the practice, Amnesty International complained on Thursday.
Canada's minority Conservative government, which ran into serious trouble early last year when allegations of torture first appeared, signed a deal with Kabul in May allowing Canadian officials unlimited access to prisoners.
Since then Ottawa has regularly denied allegations of widespread detainee abuse inside Afghan jails.
But a document released by Amnesty late on Wednesday showed the government stopped the transfers on November 5 last year after receiving evidence that a prisoner had been mistreated.
A Canadian court is due to consider on Thursday an injunction from Amnesty and another rights group that would temporarily stop the transfer of prisoners.
Amnesty said although that Ottawa had frozen the transfers, it was still contesting the injunction.
"They want to continue to be free to resume transfers at any stage and in any way they want to," said Alex Neve, secretary-general of Amnesty International Canada.
"So we will be in court today with the government maintaining ... the absurd position that 'Yes, we have stopped transferring prisoners because of concerns about torture.' But they'll be saying to the judge 'Please don't order us to stop transfers because of concerns about torture'," Neve told CTV television. Continued...