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Alleged abuse of Afghan detainees no longer a problem: Afghan minister

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Peter O’Neil – Europe Correspondent , Canwest News Service

Published: Friday, February 08, 2008

VILNIUS, Lithuania – Canada should now feel comfortable resuming prisoner transfers to Afghan authorities, Afghanistan’s Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak said Friday.

Canada stopped transferring prisoners on Nov. 5 after “a credible allegation of mistreatment” of a prisoner emerged, a recently released government document has revealed.

Wardak said the offender has been imprisoned and that a housecleaning of the corrections system should provide Canada with greater assurance.

All of the necessary actions which were required have been taken by the Afghanistan government,” he told reporters during a two-day meeting of allied defence ministers representing countries involved in the conflict against Taliban insurgents.

“So I think they can resume without being worried.”

Defence Minister Peter MacKay wouldn’t reveal whether Canada would take that step.

“There will be an operational decision taken about resuming transfers,” he told reporters.

MacKay, speaking at the conclusion of the two-day meeting organized by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, said Canada is making progress in getting the 1,000-troop reinforcement and necessary equipment from allies to justify extending the 2,500-soldier mission in Kandahar past February 2009.

He confirmed that a team headed by Ian Brodie, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s chief of staff, is in Paris to work out logistics about a possible French deployment in Kandahar.

“We knocked on a lot of doors. Some of them opened,” MacKay said.

“And France is one of those countries now that we’re going to continue to have some discussions about logistically how we can make it happen.”

Canada wants a commitment for extra help before an April allied meeting in Bucharest, where Harper and other leaders will debate the future of the troubled Afghanistan mission.

There is rampant speculation of a possible spring election, and the minority Conservative government is looking for help from allies to give Canadians a shot of confidence about the mission. All three opposition parties in the minority Parliament oppose extending Canada’s combat role past next February.

“We have a very tight timeline, so there’s no room for confusion or pushing these things off,” MacKay said.

Canada, which has lost 78 soldiers and one diplomat, has suffered the largest number of deaths on a per-capita basis among the 40 nations contributing forces in the Afghanistan conflict.

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Written by afghandevnews

February 10, 2008 at 1:49 am

Posted in Human Rights

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