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Canada removes U.S., Israel from torture watchlist

junctionist

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Canada removes U.S., Israel from torture watchlist

By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's foreign ministry, responding to pressure from close allies, said on Saturday it would remove the United States and Israel from a watch list of countries where prisoners risk being tortured.

Both nations expressed unhappiness after it emerged they had been listed in a document that formed part of a training course manual on torture awareness given to Canadian diplomats.

Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier said he regretted the embarrassment caused by the public disclosure of the manual, which also classified some U.S. interrogation techniques as torture.

"It contains a list that wrongly includes some of our closest allies. I have directed that the manual be reviewed and rewritten," Bernier said in a statement.

"The manual is neither a policy document nor a statement of policy. As such, it does not convey the government's views or positions."

The document -- made available to Reuters and other media outlets -- embarrassed the minority Conservative government, which is a staunch ally of both the United States and Israel.

U.S. ambassador David Wilkins said the listing was absurd, while the Israeli envoy said he wanted his country removed.

Asked why the two countries had been put on the list, a spokesman for Bernier said: "The training manual purposely raised public issues to stimulate discussion and debate in the classroom."

The government mistakenly gave the document to Amnesty International as part of a court case the rights organization has launched against Ottawa over the treatment of detainees in Afghanistan.

AMPLE EVIDENCE OF ABUSE

Amnesty International Canada, which says it has ample evidence that prisoners are abused both in U.S. and Israeli jails, said it was disappointed by Bernier's announcement.

"When it comes to an issue like torture, the government's main concern should not be embarrassing allies," Alex Neve, the group's secretary-general, told Reuters. The U.S. embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Under "definition of torture," the document lists U.S. interrogation techniques such as forced nudity, isolation, sleep deprivation and blindfolding prisoners.

It also mentions the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, where a Canadian man is being held.

The man, Omar Khadr, has been in Guantanamo Bay for five years. He is accused of killing a U.S. soldier during a clash in Afghanistan in 2002, when he was 15.

Other countries on the watch list include Syria, China, Iran, Afghanistan, Mexico and Saudi Arabia.

The foreign ministry launched the torture awareness course after Ottawa was criticized for the way it handled the case of Canadian engineer Maher Arar, who was deported from the United States to Syria in 2002.

Arar says he was tortured repeatedly during the year he spent in Damascus prisons. An official inquiry into the affair showed Canadian diplomats had not been trained to detect whether detainees might have been abused.
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Canada's self proclaimed new government disappoints us yet again and reminds us of the good old days when we didn't conform to the highly questionable policy and action of neoconservative government.
 

Redroom Studios

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friggin politics! Amazing that this was able to happen and then even become public under Harper's watch. I would have thought he'd cleaned house on this sort of thing by now. But the real kicker is that they decide to change it due to political pressure - why cant the truth ever rule? The US even admits to using torture techiques... or is it that they refuse to refrain from using torture in "special circumstances"...

politics is taking this planet to its death!
 

afransen

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It's not surprising that this happened. The bureaucracy is huge, and doesn't necessarily identify with the government.
 

allabootmatt

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Oy...don't like this at all. Though it should probably be said that the Israeli record on torture is considerably better than the US. Since in Israel the threat of terrorism is a very real thing, rather than (mostly) a neocon fantasy as in the States, that society has been having a very open and robust public/judicial debate on the issue for some time. I suspect that to the extent the Israelis are involved in anything you could call torture it's going on in a much more subtle--and legally regulated--way than the craziness being perpetrated in the USA.

That said, not a good idea to equivocate about this sort of thing. But I guarantee you Israelis, and even the likes of the Mossad and IDF, view the kind of excesses carried out in the name of fighting terror in the US as unbelievably crude.
 

allabootmatt

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Nope. It's just politics.
Indeed. Remember that Harper is playing a difficult game here, one in which he has to convince Canada that he's a moderate, middle of the road, responsible potential recipient of a majority government. On the other hand, he has to keep his base on the right happy and donating money. Hard to bridge these gaps, but one classic way is to send little signals--substantively unimportant but symbolic little measures--to show his core constituencies he hasn't forgotten their issues. The torture thing is one such example; a much better one would be the recent posturing over the death penalty abroad. I wouldn't flatter ourselves by pretending that the US or Israel really cares about some list in Ottawa...then again, a few key Tory constituencies probably do.
 

rpgr

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I can't help but think this is all tied to the fact that Canada is "incompetent" over in Afghanistan.

The military or someone close probably took offence and named names but then Harper et al. needed it retratced because the US "apologized".

But yeah, politics.
 

Desi_Doubkle

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all i can say truth hurts live with it

everyone know and heard about Isreal and USA torture.

examples water boarding guantanamo bay etc.

edit- canada should get some balls and say the truth not get pushed around by USA. let's face if Canada rely on USA they rely on Canada more. Canada got resources that USA need so it can say stuff like this and get away with it. but fact that it came out says a lot as well now at least people around world know even if a little bit
 

ganjavih

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allabootmatt

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Indeed. They certainly weren't trying to hide it when it was the subject of a landmark Supreme Court ruling in 1999, which banned it rather comprehensively. Incidentally all three of those links are to accounts of things which went on in the 80s/90s. That is one thing to keep in mind here: however much one disagrees with certain actions of the Israeli government, that government is the product of democratic processes considerably more robust than those prevailing in Canada, for example, and subject to a level of judicial oversight that easily equals or surpasses our own.

Then again, I don't discount the possibility that torture of some description has begun again in Israel. If it in fact has, I guarantee you it will be back in the courts very soon--courts which meet or exceed every Western standard of jurisprudence. Heck, there's even a Muslim justice on the Supreme Court.

The funny thing: a Muslim fighting a case in in the Israeli court system has exponentially more legal rights than one doing so in the judicial system of virtually any country in the entire Islamic world, let alone the Arab one. Sort of makes you wonder why many of the governments of such places really hate Israel so much.
 

ganjavih

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The funny thing: a Muslim fighting a case in in the Israeli court system has exponentially more legal rights than one doing so in the judicial system of virtually any country in the entire Islamic world, let alone the Arab one. Sort of makes you wonder why many of the governments of such places really hate Israel so much.
You're only so lucky if you have Israeli citizenship, something Palestinians don't have... that's the beef. Anyway, the opinions of these undemocratic totalitarian governments is largely irrelevant, IMHO.
 

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