New report calls on government to launch a public inquiry into actions of Canadian officials relating to Afghan detainees

September 23, 2015

OTTAWA— A new report, entitled Torture of Afghan Detainees: Canada’s Alleged Complicity and the Need for a Public Inquiry, has just been released by the Rideau Institute and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA). This report, by human rights researcher and advocate Omar Sabry, discusses Canada’s shortcomings and violations of international law relating to its transfer of hundreds of Afghan detainees to Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), most frequently the National Directorate of Security (NDS), Afghanistan’s intelligence service, despite substantial risks that they would be subjected to torture.

The report examines Canada’s operational framework for handling Afghan detainees, the transfer of detainees to Afghan authorities, attempts at accountability and transparency on this issue to date, and Canada’s legal obligations in relation to detainees captured and transferred during the armed conflict in Afghanistan.

The government entered into Transfer Arrangements in 2005 and 2007 with the Government of Afghanistan despite the presence of substantial risks of torture and other abuse. In those arrangements, the government relied on diplomatic assurances against torture, which have been shown to be ineffective and unreliable in states with consistent patterns of human rights abuses, such as Afghanistan.

“In transferring hundreds to the custody of the NDS in Kandahar, Canada failed to prevent the torture of many Afghan detainees,” said Sabry. “The government occasionally suspended transfers for various reasons, including disturbing allegations of abuse, but then resumed transfers on at least six occasions. The government’s conduct in this regard was haphazard and unprincipled, in addition to being in violation of international law.”

The report calls on the Government of Canada to launch a transparent and impartial judicial Commission of Inquiry into the actions of Canadian officials relating to Afghan detainees transferred by Canadian Forces to Afghan authorities between December 18, 2005, when a Transfer Arrangement was signed between the Governments of Canada and Afghanistan, and the end of Canadian Forces combat operations in that country in late 2011.

The Government should also develop clear policies that would prevent future reliance on diplomatic assurances against torture, including in situations involving armed conflict and extradition, and reaffirm Canada’s commitment to the prohibition of torture by immediately signing and ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Torture of Afghan Detainees: Canada’s Alleged Complicity and the Need for a Public Inquiry is available on the CCPA website at and the Rideau Institute website at  

For more information contact:

Peggy Mason, President of the Rideau Institute, 613-565-9449
Kerri-Anne Finn, CCPA Senior Communications Officer, at 613-563-1341 x306