Eight military police officers who helped transfer Afghan detainees were cleared of wrongdoing Wednesday in a military watchdog report released following a lengthy probe into their conduct.
The highly-anticipated 535-page report, published by the Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC), states there is no evidence to suggest the police officers knew the detainees would be tortured or abused by Afghan authorities.
The military watchdog’s analysis comes after a four-year investigation following complaints launched by Amnesty International and the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association on June 12, 2008.
The organizations alleged military police failed to investigate the Canadian Task Force Commanders in Afghanistan who directed the transfer of detainees.
Although the report clears eight officers of misconduct, it does outline a series of next steps for the federal government, the department of national defence, and civilian members.
“We have made a number of recommendations that we believe will improve the quality of policing services delivered by the military police,” said commission chairman Glenn Stannard. “Despite the limitations imposed by its legal mandate, this inquiry was the most exhaustive yet held into the subject of detainee transfers by the CF in Afghanistan.”
The commission identified serious problems with reporting, accountability and information sharing among military police. It also made a series of recommendations for future deployments including better education and co-ordination.
MPCC found information about detainee abuse, including reports of visits conducted by the department of foreign affairs and international trade to Afghan detention facilities, stayed within a small group of people in Afghanistan that excluded the police.
“MP (military police) input into post-transfer detainee issues or the status of the transfer process would have been perceived as unwelcome,” the report said.
Information about the treatment of Afghan detainees threatened Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s minority government back in 2009 and has remained a highly contentious issue since then.