Skip navigation

Afghan police unaware of basic rights laws

Globe and Mail Update

Critics question whether Canada and NATO are properly mentoring army, police and law-enforcement officials ...Read the full article

This conversation is closed

  1. ImaCANADIAN ! from Canada writes:
    The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission report says that "torture and cruel, inhumane and belittling behaviour" is widespread among Afghanistan's law-enforcement agencies.

    This is from the independent national rights commission that is officially mandated by the Afghan constitution and whose biggest donor last year was Canada - Yet the Harper government still carries on its Orwellian pretense that there's no evidence of torture.

    First we heard about torture in relation to the NDS, Afghanistan's notorious intelligence agency, then in relation to Kandahar's former governor, now the Afghan police. Our troops and tax dollars are being taken out of Canada and wasted in Afghanistan to support a regime whose government agencies practice torture, whose government includes many top officials that are wanted for human rights abuses, and that is allied with brutal regional warlords.

    Bring our troops back home. They should not be dying to support this puppet regime of the US-led military occupation.
  2. A. S. from Canada writes: I'm not all that sure the Canadian government is aware of basic human rights laws, either.

    Or the mob of its supporters, who are sure to show up any minute now.
  3. Zando Lee from Vancouver, Canada writes: .....nor do some Mounties....
  4. con hack loser PM is bad for Canada from Canada writes:
    One by one, the morally superior reasons to expend billions of dollars and dozens of soldiers' lives over there are falling by the wayside.

    Now that Karzai has proven to be just another version of the Taliban, there is little, if any reason, to continue smashing our collective heads against the brick wall.
  5. Ernest Semple from Montreal, Canada writes: Canada lacks moral integrity on the world stage.
    Canada's international reputation has suffered because for three or more decades it has pitted groups of Canadians against other groups of Canadians.
    Canada's international reputation has suffered because of its legislated suppression of the rights of individuals in favour of the benefit of one group of Canadians.
    Canada's lack of legal integrity in its laws varying from one province to the next depending on ethnicity, parenthood, and language is unique and unjust in the western world.
    Canada's human rights abuse at home flies in the face of its vaunted authorship of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.
    Our hypocrisy is well known abroad, and limits the effectiveness of Canada's authority over human rights abuses in countries such as Afghanistan. It will take much courage on the part of Canada's government to face up to the injustices it has put into law in the past three decades, and to take measures to repair our legal system.
    Ernest Semple, Montreal
  6. Pik Man from Canada writes: I wonder if the mounties have shown them the tazer yet?

    Just kidding................ Its probably a monumental task to teach these guys anything.
  7. siren call from Canada writes: A. S. from Canada writes: I'm not all that sure the Canadian government is aware of basic human rights laws, either.

    Or the mob of its supporters, who are sure to show up any minute now.

    Zando Lee from Vancouver, Canada writes: .....nor do some Mounties.

    As a result of the investigation into what went so horribly wrong for us in Somalia -- it was revealed that senior Canadian military officers did not properly inform our soldiers of Geneva Conventions.

    One top dude in particular was cited for this infraction. But Hillier restored his pension as one of Hillier's last acts of office.

    So I'm 'spectin that problem is all cleared up.
  8. Richard Roskell from Naramata, Canada writes:

    Not that things are going from bad to worse, or anything.
  9. Pik Man from Canada writes: siren call from Canada writes: Canadian military officers did not properly inform our soldiers of Geneva Conventions.


    That is BULLSH*T every soldier in the Canadian armed forces is aware of the Geneva Conventions.

    Are you so naive that you believe that our soldiers are not properly trained?
  10. siren call from Canada writes: Pik Man -- are you so naive as to believe a country's war propaganda? Perhaps you are not (yet) familiar with Col. Serge Labbé, now Brig-Gen.

    "Most in attendance took no notice of Labbé, and the majority of the crowd had no idea of this officer's past.

    Having closely followed his career since he commanded the ill-fated mission to Somalia in 1992-93, I recognized the controversial colonel instantly.

    His present posting is that of commander of the strategic advisory team based in Kabul that was established to help build capability within President Hamid Karzai's Afghan government.

    Although I knew that Hillier and Labbé had worked closely together in Afghanistan and that together they had orchestrated Canada's and NATO's deployment south into the insurgent-rife province of Kandahar, it seemed rather odd that Labbé would take leave from such a vital operational position and fly halfway around the world simply to attend a parade.

    Those doubts proved well-founded 23 days later when the Ottawa Citizen revealed the real reason for this colonel's trek to the nation's capital — to quietly receive his promotion to brigadier-general."
  11. Pik Man from Canada writes: siren..............

    Here is what I do believe. That the Canadian men and women that go to Afghanistan are well trained professionals that are charged with a very difficult task.
    And as far as Somalia is concerned I can remember watching some of the inquiry on TV. What sticks in my mind the most is the video of Canadian soldiers hunkered down in their buffalo armored vehicles while being pelted with rocks by a mob of ungrateful Somalies. These guys were there to save these retchs from starvation and this was the thanks they were getting.

    I caught you in a lie and all you can do is accuse me of being naive!
  12. Richard Roskell from Naramata, Canada writes:

    Pik Man may have a point there, siren call. The Canadian soldiers were on a peacekeeping mission when they tortured and murdered the Somalian teenager. Technically, the Geneva Conventions would not apply.

    Was the Brig-Gen you mention above involved in the falsification of documents pertaining to the torture/murder of Shidane Arone?
  13. Steve is a warmongering neanderthal and loving it! from Canada writes:

    Geez Louise!, we are there to fight a war and not be the damn ACLU.
  14. siren call from Canada writes: Pik Man from Canada writes:

    It hardly matters a whit what you believe.

    Canadian men and women may or may not be well trained for Afghanistan.

    A high level soldier in our much earlier deployment in Somalia was, in a national investigation, determined to have not trained those under his command in Geneva conventions; specifically the treatment of detainees.

    You choose to believe the propaganda that our soldiers were in Somalia to save "retches" from starvation. So consider yourself a starving "retch" for a moment: Why weren't food rations being dispersed? The food was behind the fence, guarded by UN soldiers -- why not released?

  15. siren call from Canada writes: Richard Roskell --

    From the link:

    "The Canadian public had been shocked to learn of two violent incidents during the Somalia mission in March 1993. In one instance, paratroopers had beaten a teenage prisoner to death, and in a separate incident, soldiers had lured two Somali looters into the camp and subsequently wounded one and executed the other.

    Even more shocking to Canadians were the revelations that the senior brass had tried to cover up these atrocities.

    Furthermore, in some cases vague orders to "abuse prisoners" and the offer of rewards for a confirmed "kill" indicated a certain amount of complicity on the part of the chain of command.

    As the commander of the battle group, Labbé was at the forefront of the public inquiry into the Somalia scandal.

    Although the hearings were terminated prematurely, Labbé did testify at the inquiry before it was suspended. Despite the Defence Department's expenditure of more than $500,000 on Labbé's legal costs, the inquiry commissioners ruled he had "failed as a commander."
  16. Jack Rip from Canada writes: These people, for better or worse, do not share our values. If you believe this tradition-bound, illiterate,feudal, tribal, deeply religious society can be miraculously transformed into one like our own by a few months of training, I have a bridge to sell you. Afghanistan needs to solve its own problems. Superficial attempts by outsiders to make them "see the light" is a fool's errand.
  17. Pik Man from Canada writes: Geneva Conventions is covered during basic training. Long before anybody made it to Somalia. It is a shame that everybody was tarred with the same brush because of the actions of one guy.
    Don't forget that politcians are concerned with perceptions not facts.
  18. siren call from Canada writes: Jack Rip -- I agree with most of what you say. Except for the "few months" comment.

    We've been in Afghanistan for some 7 years.

    The German bit of NATO was first given a go at training the police.

    Anyway -- we should maintain a commitment to Afghanistan, but our current methods just don't work. As several empires over several hundred years have confirmed.

    But we quick learners!
  19. james c from Canada writes: Pik Man from Canada writes: siren.............. Here is what I do believe. That the Canadian men and women that go to Afghanistan are well trained professionals that are charged with a very difficult task.

    Pik man, you're absolutely correct. Not only is Geneva Convention part of the military law cell of basic training, but ALL Canadian soldiers who deploy abroad on missions like this one in Afghanistan are given mission-specific pre-deployment training. Geneva Convention awareness is part of that training. Anyone who thinks Canadian soldiers know nothing of these laws only reveals their ignorance.

    BTW, that link above? Take anything from Esprit de corps with a huge grain of salt. Scott Taylor has written SOME half decent articles in the past, but he's got a serious axe to grind against the CF and much of what he writes cant be taken at face value. Same can be said for anything coming out of the mouth of Col. Michel Drapeau.

    Final point, Somalia was 16 years ago. The hard lessons learned there are part of CF Training Manuals now.
  20. The Majordomo of Baie Comeau from Canada writes: Welcome to the 90% of the world that is not a liberal democracy. They should become civilized and use money (carrot) instead of a stick. Send over some MP's to show them how.
  21. Earl Street from Petawawa, Canada writes: Arn't we Canadians sanctimonious?

    Here in Canada we honor human rights; we charge an Asian boy with assault for striking a white boy in the face in self defense after being calling a racial slur and being hit in the face first.

    People are hauled in front of kangaroo courts in the guise of "human rights commissions" because they quoted someone else's views about religion which a very small group found offensive.

    Oh yes, we Canadians are all about human rights.
  22. Zack Fair from Canada writes: "The study, titled The Reasons for Torture by Law Enforcement Agencies, reported that only about 58 per cent of law-enforcement officials felt an accused should not be tortured for any reason."

    You know what, if that figure is reliable, it is not bad at all. Consider that there is a major culture shift that the international community is trying to influence in Afghanistan. Mentorship may be past its beginning stages, but there is still a lot of work to do. What would be the percentage here in Canada? I think there was an article on this some time back, but I can't recall.
  23. Stude Ham from Canada writes:


  24. james p from Canada writes: Afghanis morally clueless? No way.
  25. Edwin Green from Canada writes: while you rant and rave about the training that a canadain forces reseive put yourself in their shoes blowing sand fles and filth these boys girls never come the same my boy is in training in gagetown if he has to go their and i hope he dont but I want him back the same as when he goes
  26. Catherine Medernach from Winnipeg, Canada writes: Germany failed in its task to train Afghan police so the task was handed off to others - partly to the Canadians and some to the US. You can only train as many people as you have trainers and mentors available. People from Corrections Canada are now in place training staff at the prison in Kandahar. Both RCMP and military MPs are training and mentoring Afghan police forces and will be including human rights in their training

    Human rights is part of basic training for all Canadian military personnel and additional training is done prior to deployment. Dealing with detainees is a relatively new concept the CF has had to deal with and I am not sure it would have been specifically included in the pre-deployment training for Somalia. BTW The government had been advised that there were problems within the unit and they should not have been sent to Somalia in the first place. In that situation, people like the recently rescued Robert Fowler, played a major role in the cover up.
  27. Catherine Medernach from Winnipeg, Canada writes: The US is also training the Afghan police and I have no idea how much emphasis there is on human rights as part of their training. Part of the problem has been their use of the Afghan police as a 'paramilitary' force in combat rather than having them trained to function as a civilian police force. There are supposed to be 4,000 people going from the US specifically for training and mentoring. There have not been enough people to cover all the training required for both the ANA and ANP which only really got started in the southern provinces about three years ago.

    One also has to keep in mind that many of the Afghans are semi-literate at best and it therefore can take more time for them to learn new concepts - especially ones that do not readily fit in with their culture such as individual human rights. Some people seem to think all this was being tackled from day one when it was not even a consideration in the early days of the campaign in Afghanistan.
  28. EX Forces Ampuroid from Canada writes: Once again Richard just because you put words in bold does not make them true. The Airborne Regiment was deployed in a peacemaking mission (OP Dleiverance) in 1992 not peacekeeping mission (UNOSOM II)which was to come later to Somalia under UN/NATO. To keep peace there had to have been peace and there was none there. That is why the original thought the airborne's capabilities on paper was a better fit. The rest of the events of Somalia are to you like the rest of your knowledge, second hand information.
  29. Richard Roskell from Naramata, Canada writes: My humble apologies to the readers. According to EFA, the Canadian Airborne Regiment was on a "peacemaking" mission not a "peacekeeping" mission, when some of its members tortured and murdered the Somalian teenager, Shidane Arone.
  30. Ron MacGillivray from Flatbush, ab, Canada writes: Richard Roskell, check this out:
  31. Steve is a warmongering neanderthal and loving it! from Canada writes:

    Response to Stude Ham from Canada writes:



    The preceding anouncement was sponsored by the Canadian branch of the INFIDELS GO HOME COMMITTEE.
  32. Ron MacGillivray from Flatbush, ab, Canada writes: Catherine Medernach wrote..."Germany failed in its task to train Afghan police so the task was handed off to others - partly to the Canadians and some to the US..." Maybe the real problem here is the Afghan police is mostly made up of people from ethnic groups in the north and are different from the Pashtans in the south. This is a reflection on the basic reality the Afghan gov't we are propping up is dominated by the Northern Alliance and the Pashtans in the south are not going to roll over and allow themselves to be ruled by them. The Europreans have seen this ages ago and want no part of this project. BTW check out this link:( It should give you an idea what our precious aid agencies are doing.
  33. Jeff T from Canada writes: Oh gods below... Another thread filled with the ignorant unwashed masses. Do try to think beyond the next 5 seconds. Will things get better or worse should we leave? For answers, look to the SWAT valley. All you morons complaining about things you know nothing about... What a waste of time.
  34. Jeff T from Canada writes: *STUDE HAM OUT OF CANADA NOW!*
  35. Catherine Medernach from Winnipeg, Canada writes: Ron MacGillivray from Flatbush - the failure of Germany to train Afghan police had little to do with the Afghans - it had all to do with the caveats that they were serving under. Just to give some examples of reasons why they were unable to train the afghan police properly: they were not allowed to do a patrol without an ambulance - which is pretty hard in mountain country; they would not transport any Afghan police on their helicopters; they would not patrol after dark.

    BTW there are Pashtuns throughout Afghanistan not just in the south. The Germans are near Kabul in Kunduz I believe - which I think is approximately 50% Pashtun.
  36. Catherine Medernach from Winnipeg, Canada writes: German special forces had an important Taliban commander in their sites but he was able to escape because unless an attack is occurring or imminent, they are not authorized to use lethal force. The individual that they almost caught is referred to by Afghans as the 'Baghlan bomber' one of the most dangerous Taliban.

    Conflict has continued within NATO because of the countries that have these kind of caveats on their troops.
  37. EX Forces Ampuroid from Canada writes: And Richard was doing the same then as he was now, nothing. The people of Somalia thank you for your global conciences. You adopted some one who was in a periless situation too bad you cannot extrapolate that to other areas of the globe instead of making the problem too big to fix and complaining with misinformation on a message board your effective way to deal. Your son must be proud
  38. Richard Roskell from Naramata, Canada writes:
    Extrapolate from adopting an orphan, to making war in someone else's country wherein thousands of people are killed every year over our own security concerns?

    What an interesting connection you've come up with, EFA. Please explain your extrapolation.
  39. EX Forces Ampuroid from Canada writes: And if you would have left him in the situation he was in his situation would have been what exactly...? You plucked him from his own indigineous culture and impossed your own on him have you not? Are you now the oppressive force who stripped him of his culture? You brought him to Canada where his life has certainly improved instead of growing up in Korea. If you want to seemly ignore the simple fact that there was killing in Afghanistan long before the Government asked the world for assitance to set up there own legitimate governmental system and the genocide that will occur if the protection leaves at this point would be that same as saying your son would have had a better life in Korea with out your own assistance.
  40. EX Forces Ampuroid from Canada writes: Did you slap golden handcuffs on him? I am more afluent let me take you away because we are much better than you and yours. Did you adopt because of an infertility you were unable to psychologically able to deal with so he is now responsible for making you feel better? Is your adopted son some way for you to keep up with your geo/eco responsible neighbours? Do you show him off at cocktail parties and say look at him but you are really saying look at me? Look at what I did? Have you now strapped the Canadian people with an added health care responsibility for your own personal enjoyment?
    I could look at your son as a humanitarian act instead of bad eco/immigration policy as you do with the UN's/Canada's policy on Afghanistan.

    Do you have your exapolation done yet?
  41. Catherine Medernach from Winnipeg, Canada writes: siren call from Canada - we have been on the current mission for only 3 years. Although the CF went in 2005 - they were busy assuming command from Kandahar from the US. Then they had to prepare the way for the Dutch contingent and keep the door open for the British troops in 2006 - little of the CF focus was on their own tasks until late 2006 and early 2007.

    As a matter of fact, the current method used by the US is very effective - unfortunately it has been disrupted a couple of time due to the Taliban. They were very unhappy that the Canadians were winning hearts and minds and determined to undermine them at every opportunity.
  42. EX Forces Ampuroid from Canada writes: This issue is the weak part of the Mission not just Canada's Mission. The people looking to become Police have the following challenges. Iliteracy to read or be taught the word of the law. Driving in softskinned and being open in public so they are easy targets. Lastely the reality of their personal poverity affects their critical thinking skills and ethics as they still think in survival mode.
  43. Catherine Medernach from Winnipeg, Canada writes: EX Forces Ampuroid - so true - the Canadians who have been one groups that has provided uniforms and equipment needed. In addition they have paid, and sometimes fed, their recruits directly. Unfortunately the Taliban see them as soft targets and hit them frequently. Also, the US has used them to much as paramilitary front line troops which defeats the purpose. People also do not realized that the police have a dual role as firefighters. Again, Canada assisted by donating a truck and other equipment for that task. Seems to me that Canada set the bar for training both the ANA and ANP and many other countries are not always maintaining the same level.
  44. EX Forces Ampuroid from Canada writes: The Akiles heal is the ANP. ANA have been coordinating operations such as June 2008 manhunt for the escape prisoners from the Kandahar jailbreak. They will require futher development of the ANP as relationships with the Governors and the village leaders to put infrastructure in place. The unfortunate factor is they cannot do that until there are police in their own area to protect it from the Taliban destroying it. Truly a vicious circle. I hope the added US troops will be the answer to not only train the ANP but to protect them long enough to make them efective.
  45. Catherine Medernach from Winnipeg, Canada writes: EX Forces Ampuroid - it took so long to get serious issues worked out and training working that they are a lot farther behind than the army. They have also been soft targets barely able to protect themselves. There are supposed to be 4,000 going from the US (including trainers) to focus on training the ANP - hopefully that is exactly what they will be doing - training them as a civilian police force to protect the public and not as a paramilitary force as they have done in the past. They also have to acknowledge that the ANP are also the local firefighters and need to be trained and equipped accordingly. The Canadians in Kandahar have been working from the top down to make sure there is a reasonable cadre of officers and those who can follow up with future training. Canadian Corrections staff have also been working to train the people operating the prison from the Warden on down to ensure prisoner are being treated appropriately. There is a lot of ground to cover in short time.
  46. Richard Roskell from Canada writes:

    Afghan presidential hopeful promises Taliban talks - Washington Post

    "Afghanistan's insurgency can be brought to an end through "soft diplomacy" with the Taliban, if Western forces commit to a timetable to withdraw from the country, a veteran of past negotiations with the militants says."

    Taliban urged to join Afghan polls - al Jazeera

    "The United Nations and Afghanistan's main rights body have called on Taliban fighters to take part in the country's forthcoming presidential elections rather than attack the polls."

    'Gilded cage' lifestyle reveals the ugly truth about foreign aid in Afghanistan - The Independent

    "Vast sums of money are being lavished by Western aid agencies on their own officials in Afghanistan at a time when extreme poverty is driving young Afghans to fight for the Taliban. The going rate paid by the Taliban for an attack on a police checkpoint in the west of the country is $4, but foreign consultants in Kabul, who are paid out of overseas aids budgets, can command salaries of $250,000 to $500,000 a year."
  47. Catherine Medernach from Winnipeg, Canada writes: Their are many aid agencies in Afghanistan. One thing about the Canadian PRT is they pay the money directly to the village elders according to specific long term plans developed in shuras with CIDA, the elders and the governor. They money doesn't go through the governor. Locals decided the priorities and are paid for the work and construction materials are bought locally. The object is to increase community efforts to work together. This is not the pattern for many UN agencies and other outside NGOs - but they are trying to keep the situation under control by trying to persuate them to work in conjunction with the provincial plan worked with the governor.The focus is on longterm planning and any immediate impact projects done by the army are also checked to make sure that they remain within the overall plan. They have tried get the other PRTs to follow the same model as it helps develop independancy and less reliance on outsiders and stimulates the local economy..
  48. Richard Roskell from Naramata, Canada writes:

    "Locals decided the priorities and are paid for the work and construction materials are bought locally."

    Evidently then, Afghan "locals" decided that the Canadian Forces should bulldoze their farms in order to run a direct road out to one of the CF's forward operating bases. I guess locals also decided that the Canadian Forces should pave a short section of road through the Panjwaii- one that joins dirt roads on either end. (Seems IED's were a problem for the CF.) Locals must also have decided that a wall should be built around Kandahar University, that stations for the corrupt Afghan police should be built in remote villages, and that the CF/ANA base that's just been torn down in Mushan should have been built in the first place.

    I love that spirit of PRT cooperation!
  49. Catherine Medernach from Winnipeg, Canada writes: Of course Roskell, anything that the CF might be doing you have to find a way to disparage. You have no idea how decisions are being made. As a matter of fact, many decisions have been made cooperatively with the Afghans and provincial governor. Also, after a conflict there is an immediate battle assessment of any damage that has been done and plans made to repair it discussed with the locals. They also speak with the elders and try to set up a shura with the people from CIDA to determine what needs to be done and develop a priority list. And yes, the preference is for hiring locals and purchasing supplies locally to develop community capacity and cooperation as well as to stimulate the local economy. They try to ensure local employment so that the men from the villages who are not committed to the Taliban, but fight only because of economic need, will remain in the villages - and their efforts have been successful in some areas.
  50. Catherine Medernach from Winnipeg, Canada writes: Regardless of what some may suggest, as a group the Taliban has no interest in politics - they see no need for consultation. Any Taliban that has renounced violence and returned to live in the community may decide to participate in the elections.

    Mullah Omar has never 'consulted' with outsiders and is not interested in a negotiated settlement - unless all troops leave and he is given control of Afghanistan as he had before. As frustrated as the Afghans may be with the current situation they have already demonstrated that they do not want the Taliban to return.

    There is no central person that can negotiate for all of the Taliban - some will only do as directed by Mullah Omar. Al-Qaeda is not interested in negotiations either - only in retaining their base of operations in the area. They would discourage any serious negotiations which of necessity require there surrender by the Taliban - who have already indicated they would support them in Pakistan.
  51. EX Forces Ampuroid from Canada writes: One more time Richard. This time in crayon for you to understand. The system now in place is the PRT goes to the different Govenors. They are put in contact with the different village leaders, the Shiras occur. The village comes up with the plan as to what they need and how they are going to put the infrasture in place and how they are going to protect it. If they cannot the project does not go through until there is a plan in place. If the road went where you said it did then that is where it had to go. I will leave the unintelligent remark about IEDs you put in your response. It would be like me saying when are you sending your adopted refugee back to Korea so the Canadian people are not responsible for fixing Koreas problems too since we are so bad at it. It is only good policy when you get to benefit I guess.
  52. Catherine Medernach from Winnipeg, Canada writes: Roskell - any building of roads or digging of wells - classified as quick impact projects - had to be checked by the CF to see if they fit with the overall plan for the area. BTW The locals need roads to be able to ship goods they need for construction and to take produce to market.

    As far as a wall around Kandahar University - I am sure if the military built it, it did not make that decision on their own. As for the structure that was just demolished - it was not a 'base' but a lookout post. You just throw in any ad hoc piece of information to make people believe you know what you are talking about. Often the early structures - police stations, schools etc. were actually built by the US or other organizations rather than the CF.

Comments are closed

Thanks for your interest in commenting on this article, however we are no longer accepting submissions. If you would like, you may send a letter to the editor.

Report an abusive comment to our editorial staff


Alert us about this comment

Please let us know if this reader’s comment breaks the editor's rules and is obscene, abusive, threatening, unlawful, harassing, defamatory, profane or racially offensive by selecting the appropriate option to describe the problem.

Do not use this to complain about comments that don’t break the rules, for example those comments that you disagree with or contain spelling errors or multiple postings.

Back to top