Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

October 03, 2008 11:46 ET

Investigation Into Alleged Detainee Abuse Concluded

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 3, 2008) - The Canadian Forces Military Police, specifically the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (CFNIS), has concluded its investigation into the alleged abuse of three detainees by Canadian Forces members in April 2006 in Afghanistan.

Following a complaint to the Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC) by Professor Amir Attaran on January 29, 2007, the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal ordered the CFNIS to conduct an investigation into three allegations.

The first allegation investigated was whether any of the detainees were abused. The investigation found no evidence that any of the three detainees were mistreated or abused during capture, detention or transfer to Afghan authorities. The investigation also found that the injuries sustained by one of the detainees were the result of that individual engaging one of the CF members and trying to seize a weapon. In light of the circumstances it was concluded that CF personnel applied reasonable force within the scope of their duties and acted in accordance with the Rules of Engagement. The second detainee sustained minor scrapes when he attempted to escape by jumping over a steep embankment. These injuries were sustained prior to their transfer to the Military Police. The third detainee sustained no injuries during the course of his capture.

The second allegation investigated was whether the three detainees were afforded proper medical care by the CF. The investigation found compelling evidence that all three of the detainees were provided appropriate medical care throughout the entire period they were in custody of the CF.

The third allegation investigated was whether the Military Police should have initiated an investigation into the cause of the detainees' injuries. After an extensive investigation into this allegation, the CFNIS concluded that no reasonable grounds existed to support charges under the National Defence Act. The Military Police Complaints Commission is addressing the professional conduct of the members of the Military Police as part of their separate investigation.

"The CFNIS spent considerable time and resources on this complex investigation," stated Lieutenant-Colonel Gilles Sansterre, Commanding Officer of the CFNIS. "The investigation was a thorough process which included in excess of one hundred interviews across Canada, the United States and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan."

The CFNIS is an independent Military Police unit with a mandate to investigate serious and sensitive matters in relation to National Defence property, Departmental employees and Canadian Forces personnel serving in Canada and abroad.


BACKGROUNDER

CFNIS INVESTIGATION INTO ALLEGED DETAINEE ABUSE

The Canadian Forces Military Police, specifically the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (CFNIS) concluded its investigation into the alleged abuse of three detainees by Canadian Forces (CF) members in April 2006 in Afghanistan.



Timelines

April 6-7, 2006 CF members captured three Afghan men,
who were detained.

April 8, 2006 Three detainees transferred to the Afghan National
Police (ANP).

January 29, 2007 Professor Amir Attaran formally complains to the
Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC) of the
suspected mistreatment of the three detainees,
requesting an independent investigation and public
hearing into the allegations.

January 30, 2007 The Chair of the MPCC formally notifies the CDS and
the CF Provost Marshal of the complaint.

February 1, 2007 The CFNIS investigation starts.


Composition of the investigative team

The investigation team structure and methodology was in keeping with "Major Case Management" principles promulgated by the Canadian Police College. The Major Case Advisor for this case was an investigator from the RCMP on secondment with the CFNIS and selected to head the investigative team. The investigation team was structured with a case manager, lead investigator, file coordinator and field investigators. It included eight full time field investigators, with additional assistance from other investigators including those from the CFNIS Detachment in Afghanistan.

Investigation process

This was a complex investigation that included in excess of one hundred interviews across Canada, the United States and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and took well over a year to complete. The CFNIS investigation examined the three allegations separately: were any of the detainees abused or mistreated while in the custody of the CF, were the three detainees afforded proper medical care for their injuries while in the custody of the CF, and should the Military Police have investigated the cause of detainee's injuries.

Findings

The CFNIS investigated whether any criminal act or service offences were committed. No charges were laid in this case given that there were no reasonable grounds to support charges under the National Defence Act.

Were any of the detainees abused or mistreated while in the custody of the CF?

The investigation found no evidence that any of the three detainees were mistreated or abused during capture, detention or transfer to Afghan authorities. The investigation also found that the injuries sustained by one of the detainees occurred after he engaged one of the CF members and tried to seize a weapon. In light of the circumstances it was concluded that CF personnel applied reasonable force within the scope of their duties and acted in accordance with the Rules of Engagement. The second detainee sustained minor scrapes when he attempted to escape by jumping over a steep embankment. These injuries were sustained prior to their transfer to the Military Police. The third detainee sustained no injuries during the course of his capture.

Were the three detainees afforded proper medical care for their injuries while in the custody of the CF?

The investigation found compelling evidence that all three of the detainees were provided appropriate medical care throughout the entire period they were in custody of the CF.

Should the Military Police have investigated the cause of detainee's injuries?

After an extensive investigation into this allegation, the CFNIS concluded that no reasonable grounds existed to support charges under the National Defence Act. The Military Police Complaints Commission is addressing the professional conduct of the members of the Military Police as part of their separate investigation.

The Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (CFNIS)

The CFNIS is an independent Military Police unit with a mandate to investigate serious and sensitive matters in relation to National Defence property, Departmental employees and Canadian Forces personnel serving in Canada and abroad.

The Commanding Officer of the CFNIS reports directly to the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal. Regardless of the circumstance or environment, the members of the CFNIS remain under his command. The independence that results from this command relationship enables the CFNIS to conduct thorough investigations without fear of influence from any command element.

Concurrent processes

There are two other processes underway on the same incident.

The Military Police Complaints Commission is conducting its own investigation following Professor Attaran's complaints that Military Police should have investigated the injuries to the three detainees. Any further details would have to be addressed to the MPCC directly.

A National Defence Board of Inquiry (BOI) into in-theatre handling of detainees is also ongoing. The BOI is a much broader process that will look at many factors including whether changes to orders, directives, procedures and training are warranted. The BOI suspended its activities in June 9, 2008 to expedite the CFNIS disciplinary investigation. The Board will resume its inquiry now that the CFNIS investigation has concluded. Further information on the BOI is available at http://www.vcds.forces.gc.ca/boi_2007/intro_e.asp

Contact Information

  • Information: 613-996-2353 or 1-866-377-0811
    After hours: 613-792-2973
    www.forces.gc.ca
    or
    Captain Paule Poulin
    Public Affairs Officer
    Canadian Forces Provost Marshal
    613-949-1022