Beth Gorham / Canadian Press – 2008-01-16 22:48:55
WASHINGTON (January 16, 2008) — A Foreign Affairs Department training manual lists Guantanamo Bay as a site of possible torture and abuse, despite officials saying publicly they accept U.S. assurances Canadian Omar Khadr has been treated humanely.
The U.S. prison camp in Cuba is listed as one of the places where the possibility of torture exists. Afghanistan, the United States, China, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Mexico and Syria are also on the list.
Canadian Maher Arar was imprisoned and tortured in Syria. The workshop manual for consular employees was produced about two years ago while a federal commission was investigating Arar’s case.
Last updated Dec. 19, 2007, the training material offers a section on laws prohibiting torture and what to do when cases are suspected.
It also discusses how to spot signs a Canadian abroad has been abused, including body language and posture, as well as non-physical signs.
When asked in the past about Khadr’s claims that he had been abused, Foreign Affairs officials have said Canada takes the issue seriously and has received assurance from U.S. officials it wasn’t happening.
Neil Hrab, spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier, said Wednesday: “The training manual is not a policy document and does not reflect the views or policies of this government.”
Khadr’s chief lawyer, Lt.-Cmdr. Bill Kuebler, said: “This tells us the government has reason to believe Khadr has been abused.”
“It is certainly inconsistent with their public position. It’s time for Canada to follow the lead of every other western country and demand the release of its citizens.”
Khadr, 21, has relayed complaints of abuse to his lawyers since he arrived at the prison camp in the fall of 2002. His lawyers say he has been held in stress positions, thrown into solitary confinement for months on end and used as a human mop to clean up his own urine.
The manual was inadvertently released to lawyers working on a lawsuit involving alleged abuse of Afghan detainees by Canadians.
“I was shocked,” said Amir Attaran, a University of Ottawa professor who is an academic adviser on the case.
“You could not have a clearer sign that Foreign Affairs has learned zero from the Maher Arar case,” said Attaran. “Our government has actually taken a step backward on government prevention. Now they’re simply writing it down.”
The workshop document states its purpose is to create “a greater awareness among consular officials to the possibility of Canadian detained abroad being tortured.” It outlines a framework for reporting abuse cases so that “appropriate action” may be taken.
Eye movement is included in the list of ways to tell whether someone is lying or not. Moving the eyes up to the left, for instance, indicates a “probable lie” while moving them up to the right indicates “recounting known facts.”
The Canadian government has been reluctant to get involved in the Khadr case, although Britain and other countries have repatriated their citizens.
In a recent interview, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he was unaware of any basis on which Khadr could be detained or prosecuted in Canada.
A legal study conducted by a group of University of Ottawa law students submitted a report to a Senate committee this month saying Canada’s war crimes law and terrorism charges introduced after the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States could be applied to him.
Khadr is accused of throwing a grenade that killed a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan in 2002.
© The Canadian Press, 2008
Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.