Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

April 17, 2010 14:46 ET

Letter From the Chief of the Defence Staff

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - April 17, 2010) - The Chief of the Defence Staff, General Walt Natynczyk, sent the following letter to the Chair of the Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan on April 16th, 2010. This letter provided factual information that clearly refutes the accusations made by Mr. Ahmadshah Malgarai who testified before the committee on April 14th, 2010.

16 April 2010

Mr. Kevin Sorenson
Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan
House of Commons
131 Queen Street
Ottawa ON K1A 0A6

Mr. Chair,

I am writing to you today to provide factual information following accusations made by Mr. Ahmadshah Malgarai on April 14th, 2010 before the Committee. Mr. Malgarai made a number of accusations in his appearance that are being looked into by the Canadian Forces, but by far the most egregious was that a Canadian Forces member unlawfully shot and killed an individual in 2007.

Based on the information disclosed in Mr. Malgarai's testimony, the Canadian Forces have every reason to believe that we have identified the event in question.

During the night from the 18th and 19th of June 2007, a Canadian-led operation, supported by Afghan and coalition forces, was launched on a compound associated with IED-making activity. The compound was suspected to be a staging area for rocket attacks against Kandahar Airfield as well as IED attacks against Canadian and coalition soldiers. Details of this event are very well documented. A full year of intelligence gathering by the CF and its coalition partners was done before this Canadian-led operation. 

Operation reports which unfortunately cannot be made public as they contain sensitive information about tactics, techniques and procedures, indicate that during the mission an armed individual posed a direct and imminent threat to CF soldiers as they entered the compound. A shooter who was providing support to the operation identified the individual and assessed that he was a threat, and shot the individual. The actions of the shooter were an appropriate application of the rules of engagement and saved the lives of a number of Canadian Forces members that night. This individual was armed and was never detained.

During the course of the operation, ten Afghans were detained. Nine of these detainees tested positive for explosive residue. In accordance with standard procedures, these detainees were taken to Kandahar Airfield where they were processed and determined to be uninjured and in good health. During tactical questioning of the detainees, two individuals made allegations that coalition forces had planted a pistol on the deceased insurgent. It is worth noting that one of the two individuals later retracted his allegation.

Immediately following the mission, an after-action review was conducted to review the actions and outcomes of the operation. It was determined that all applicable rules of engagement and theatre standing orders were followed.

As you are well aware, before transferring a detainee into Afghan custody, the Canadian Task Force Commander must be satisfied that there is no substantial grounds for believing that there exists a real risk that the detainee would be in danger of being subjected to torture or other forms of mistreatment at the hands of Afghan authorities. The Canadian Forces do not transfer individuals for the purposes of gathering information. 

In this particular case, the Commander at the time considered all the relevant information at his disposal and made the determination to transfer all ten individuals to the NDS in order to allow Afghan authorities to determine whether criminal prosecution was warranted. This is in accordance with our detainee transfer arrangements with the Government of Afghanistan. All individuals transferred were properly monitored and tracked through Canada's monitoring mechanisms.

I want all committee members to know that the Canadian Forces take all allegations seriously and will investigate new allegations appropriately. Whenever there have been specific allegations, the Canadian Forces have not hesitated to act. As a result of Mr. Malgarai's testimony, the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service is conducting an investigative assessment. And we welcome any individual who has any relevant information about this event to come forward and provide a sworn statement.

It is important for committee members as well as Canadians to recognize that we are conducting operations in a hostile environment. The Canadian Forces have always been and remain committed to ensuring that detainees are handled and transferred in accordance with our obligations under international law. We believe in upholding the values of justice, respect for human rights and the dignity of the individual. 

Finally, I think that it is important to keep in mind the good work that the men and women are doing in Afghanistan. Since the beginning of our engagement in Afghanistan, some 30,000 soldiers, sailors and airmen and women have helped the people of Afghanistan build towards a brighter future. These men and women in uniform are in harm's way. They are working on behalf of all Canadians in very difficult conditions and they continue to demonstrate great bravery and compassion.

I trust that this information gives you a clearer picture of what actually happened on the ground that evening in June 2007 and demonstrates the lengths to which the Canadian Forces go to ensure we conduct ourselves professionally, honourably and in accordance with the rule of law.


W. J. Natynczyk
Chief of the Defence Staff

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