Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Prior service in Afghanistan puts Defence Minister in possible conflict with ongoing investigation into allegations of mistreatment of detainees

The Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC) is currently conducting a Public Interest Investigation into allegations concerning the treatment of Afghan detainees by members of the Military Police (MP) in 2010-11 and related investigations in 2011-12.  The complaint alleges that the MP conducted exercises to "terrorize" the detainees and in one instance entered the cells and pressed detainees against the wall and floor and applied arm locks. 

According to the complaint, MPs were said to have entered the cells in the middle of the night, carrying weapons and other police equipment, and to have pressed detainees against the wall and on the floor and applied arms locks. The complainant alleges that investigations were conducted by the National Investigation Service (NIS) in 2011 and later by a Lieutenant-Colonel in the MP chain of command. However, no charges were laid. The letter provides the ranks and surnames of five "reference persons".
Pursuant to section 250.21(2)(c)(i) of the National Defence Act, the MPCC notified the Provost Marshal on February 27, 2015 requesting additional information.  Pursuant to subsection 250.38 (3) of the National Defence Act,  on November 4, 2015, the Chair of the MPCC notified the Minister, the Chief of the Defence Staff, the Judge Advocate General, the Provost Marshal and the Commanding Officer of the NIS of its decision to conduct a Public Interest Investigation into this complaint.

 On June 22, 2016 the Ottawa Citizen reports that Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s three tours of duty in Afghanistan as a CF Intelligence Officer might put him in a conflict of interest.  However, Minister Sajjan denies any involvement:
I wasn’t involved in this . . . I was using my experience as a police officer, engaging with the community, and one thing I can say is that the Canadian Armed Forces personnel, (with) the training that they have, abide by the Geneva Conventions and everybody who I served with, served with absolute credibility and honour.”

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