Almost from the start of its big 2006 push into southern Afghanistan, Canada's senior military and government officials were warned of “serious, imminent and alarming” problems with handing over captured prisoners to that country's notorious jails.
This politically explosive revelation, which emerged Wednesday at an inquiry into whether Canada knowingly put Afghan detainees at risk of torture, shows a Canadian diplomat started red-flagging detainee transfers in May, 2006, a full year before Ottawa acted to bolster safeguards for them.
It wasn't until May, 2007, that the Harper government overhauled its prisoner transfer agreement with the Afghan government, negotiating a new one that allowed for follow-up visits to ensure detainees weren't tortured.
Before then, the Conservative government fiercely defended the treatment of Afghans they had handed over to Kabul's security services for interrogation, with then-defence minister Gordon O'Connor saying if there was something wrong the Red Cross would have informed Canada.
But diplomat Richard Colvin, who's defying Department of Justice lawyers' efforts to stop him from testifying, Wednesday revealed to a Military Police Complaints Commission inquiry that he first sounded the alarm on detainees nearly three and a half years ago.