Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Military Police Investigation conducts a Public Interest Investigation into alleged mistreatment of Afghan detainees

ANONYMOUS COMPLAINT OF MISCONDUCT AGAINST MPs. In February 2015, the Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC) received an anonymous complaint.  The complainant alleges that between December 2010 and January 2011 the Commanding Officer of the Joint Task Force Afghanistan Military Police Company stationed at Kandahar Airfield ran exercises in unoccupied detention cells neighboring cells containing detainees, in order to “terrorize” the detainees.  The complainant further alleges that at one point, at least one exercise was conducted in cells occupied by detainees.  According to the complaint, MP members 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 arm locks.  

The complaint letter goes on to allege the uniformed National Investigation Service (NIS) conducted an investigation in order to bring serious charges against the MP Commanding Officer but did not lay any charges.  

Instead, charges were allegedly provided to the Canadian Task Force Commander who, according to the complainant, ignored them.  Finally, the complainant alleges that in October 2012, a lieutenant-colonel in the MP chain of command was tasked to conduct an investigation into the events; however, despite these various investigations, no court martial or charges resulted.  

The letter provides the ranks and surnames of five “reference persons”.


Pursuant to subparagraph 250.21(2)(c)(i) of the National Defence Act,  the MPCC notified the Provost Marshal and requested additional information about the matters raised in the complaint. Given the seriousness of the allegations and the gravity of the underlying events, on November 4, 2015, the Chair MPCC advised the Minister of National Defence, the Chief of the Defence Staff, the Judge Advocate General and the Provost Marshall of her decision, pursuant to sub-section 250.38.(3) of the National Defence Act, to conduct a Public Interest Investigation (PII) into these allegations. She notes:

The allegation that the Military Police may have been involved in covering-up misconduct on the part of MP or other CAF members is a very grave one that goes to the heart of the MPCC’s mandate to ensure accountability for the MP and to foster public confidence in the availability of a suitable independent mechanism to investigate alleged misconduct.”

Considering the totality of the context and public interest factors, I conclude that the most appropriate way to ensure that this matter is investigated to the satisfaction of the public is to cause the MPCC to conduct the investigation.  A Public Interest Investigation will allow the Commission to conduct a thorough investigation in order to shed light on the events and ensure no doubts remain at the end of the complaints process.  The subsequent publication of the MPCC’s findings and recommendations will help ensure the highest standards of accountability and transparency for the Military Police, thereby contributing to the preservation or perhaps restoration of public confidence.  


Relevant materials are current being examined by the MPCC which has yet to determine the scope of the PII and identify the subjects of the complaints. 

Updates on the progress of the investigation will be posted as they become available.

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