Saturday, November 21, 2009

Did Richard Colvin commit a war crime?

A day after watching Peter MacKay's fantastic interview on the partisan Soloman Show, something the Minister said stuck with me. How many times he and other members of Parliament met with this guy while the alleged torture was taking place and never said anything. Now in the prism of hindsight, he is claiming that he tried to file reports in back channels because he did not like the Generals? I am in the business of safety and security. If there is a safety hazard on my site, I am obligated to not only file a report, but to verbally tell my superiors immediately. If I don't say anything to my supervisor and instead file a report that may take weeks to traverse the bureaucracy and a civilian dies because of that hazard while my report is being reviewed, I am liable. My duty is to immediately report the hazard to my superiors, otherwise I personally share criminal liability for the innocent death.

Therefore my question is, if this guy knew that innocent people were being tortured and he did not tell a single superior visiting the theatre of war, is Richard Colvin personally liable for the alleged violation of the Geneva Conventions?


  1. I'm still at a loss to see what the issue is here. There was a problem with the treatment of detainees which were being handed over by Canadian forces. The problem got fixed. No one is claiming that prisoner abuse is being ignored today. So just what is all the noise about?
    Is it because Colvin claims the government and the military didn't act quickly enough? Is it because the military supposedly knew about the mistreatment and still continued to hand over prisoners?
    Why on earth would the opposition parties be shrieking for a public inquiry, at a cost of millions of dollars, to investigate a problem that hes been corrected? Sure, the government and the military, in the opinion of some, may have been slow to react. But, at the time there was a raging debate over what to do with these prisoners. (Remember Dion's suggestion that they should be repatriated to Canada and held in custody here.) Canada's forces were, and are, operating in a foreign country with traditions and values that are not the same as are those in the west. The government of Canada can't just snap its fingers and tell the government of Afghanistan what it must do. It was the Liberal government under Paul Martin that set up the transfer protocols and, before Canada could make changes to them, required negotiations with the Afghani administration.
    The opposition parties, which are bemoaning the size of the deficit, sure seem hell bent on squandering millions of my tax dollars just to score a few gotcha points.

  2. Iceman
    You follow procedure and from the evidence so did Mr Colvin. The fact that your procedure is different from Civil Service procedure does not surprise me at all.
    The Civil Service is run in a very structured way and stepping outside of these structures is next to impossible if you don't want to be subject to prosecution under "Official Secrets" laws. This was illustrated by the fact that Mr Colvin couldn't testify to the MPCC, but could to Parliament because of the immunity it brought. The CPoC actually invoked legislation to gag Mr Colvin in front of the MPCC.
    Written reports are always the way in which Civil Servants report officially. Any verbal communication could have been denied later or even not acted upon because it was not following procedure.
    The culture within Mr Colvin's department, even on attitudes towards his written reports, can be determined from his evidence that he was told not to put too much down on paper.
    The man did his job as he was supposed to, using the methods and channels he was authorised to and showed great courage in testifying knowing what would surely be coming.
    To even insinuate he is a war criminal is terrible.
    All I see is attacking the messenger, nobody really doubts the content of his statements because nobody will discuss those directly.

  3. harebell, I certainly do doubt the content of Colvin's statements, if he is saying for a certainty that ALL detainees were tortured. How would he know?

  4. I believe he qualified "all". Candian detainees.
    Also he was there, I was not so I'm going to give him the greater credibility with respect to stuff Afghani right now.
    If the Gov has evidence to show that his evidence has no credence then I await that with anticipation. All I've seen up until now is fluff and personal attacks, nothing of substance and certainly nothing that addresses the claims.

  5. Fluff and personal attacks are what is coming from the opposition. It is okay to accuse MacKay of war crimes on the Soloman show, but it is deplorable to ask what liability that the accuser has in this instance? The left is hypocritical on this issue.