Canada handed over child pris­on­ers to Afghans

The Pak Banker - - 6international -

OT­TAWA: Cana­dian sol­diers in Afghanistan cap­tured chil­dren sus­pected of work­ing with the Tal­iban and then handed them over to an Afghan se­cu­rity unit al­leged to have abused pris­on­ers, the Cana­dian Broad­cast­ing Corp said.

The story-first made pub­lic late on Sun­day-is the lat­est blow to the im­age of Canada's in­creas­ingly un­pop­u­lar com­bat mis­sion in south­ern Afghanistan, which is due to end next year. The ques­tion of Afghan de­tainees has been one of the most dif­fi­cult is­sues for the mi­nor­ity Con­ser­va­tive govern­ment since it took power in early 2006.

The CBC, cit­ing a De­fense Depart­ment doc­u­ment, said that since 2006 Cana­dian sol­diers had cap­tured chil­dren and then trans­ferred them to a spe­cial wing at Kan­da­har's Sar­poza prison, which is run by Afghan's Na­tional Di­rec­torate of Se­cu­rity (NDS).

Last year a Cana­dian diplo­mat said that as early as 2006, he had sent re­ports in­di­cat­ing the NDS was abus­ing de­tainees. A brief­ing doc­u­ment sent to De­fense Min­is­ter Peter MacKay in March said Afghan au­thor­i­ties were now send­ing child pris­on­ers to a sep­a­rate ju­ve­nile rehabilitation cen­ter.

"This change may draw at­ten­tion to the role of ju­ve­niles in the Afghan con­flict," noted the doc­u­ment, which the CBC ob­tained un­der ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion laws.

The doc­u­ment said some chil­dren had been in "Cana­dian Forces cus­tody for a sig­nif­i­cant pe­riod". The ex­act amount of time, as well as the num­ber of chil­dren, was deleted. No one from the De­fense Depart­ment was avail­able for com­ment on Mon­day. The CBC quoted a mil­i­tary spokesman as say­ing all "ju­ve­nile de­tainees are sent to NDS to be pro­cessed", and were then ei­ther re­leased or sent to the rehabilitation cen­ter.

Canada has around 2,800 troops in the south­ern Kan­da­har re­gion, and has so far lost 153 ser­vice­men and women. Once the com­bat mis­sion ends next year, about 950 sol­diers will stay be­hind un­til 2014 to help train Afghan forces. -Reuters

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