January 19, 2008

Israel and America stop torture thanks to Canadian pressure

This is amazing. Only two days ago Reuters reported that Canada had placed Israel and the USA on its list of countries that use torture. Well now Canada has taken both countries off the list. Israel and America must have stopped the torture. They must have done. Otherwise they'd be on the list of countries that use torture. I can't think of any other explanation.

I know what to do. Let's see what actually happened here. First up, on 17th January 2008 Reuters reported that Canada places U.S., Israel on torture watch list. Now I must point out that when I first googled the headline that I was emailed by somebody, the list of articles with the headline contained several links that when I followed them had already changed the article to Canada takes U.S., Israel off torture watchlist. The original story is disappearing fast. So here it is in full:
By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's foreign ministry has put the United States and Israel on a watch list of countries where prisoners risk being tortured and also classifies some U.S. interrogation techniques as torture, according to a document obtained by Reuters on Thursday.

The revelation is likely to embarrass the minority Conservative government, which is a staunch ally of both the United States and Israel. Both nations denied they allowed torture in their jails.

The document -- part of a training course on torture awareness given to diplomats -- mentions the U.S. jail at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba where a Canadian man is being held.

The man, Omar Khadr, is the only Canadian in Guantanamo. His defenders said the document made a mockery of Ottawa's claims that Khadr was not being mistreated.

Under "definition of torture" the document lists U.S. interrogation techniques such as forced nudity, isolation, sleep deprivation and blindfolding prisoners.

"The United States does not permit, tolerate, or condone torture under any circumstances," said a spokeswoman for the U.S. embassy in Ottawa.

A spokesman for Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier tried to distance Ottawa from the document.

"The training manual is not a policy document and does not reflect the views or policies of this government," he said.

The government mistakenly provided the document to Amnesty International Canada as part of a court case the rights organization has launched against Ottawa over the treatment of detainees in Afghanistan.

Amnesty Secretary-General Alex Neve told Reuters his group had very clear evidence of abuse in U.S. and Israeli jails.

"It's therefore reassuring and refreshing to see that ... both of those countries have been listed and that foreign policy considerations didn't trump the human rights concern and keep them off the list," he said.

Khadr has been in Guantanamo Bay for five years. He is accused of killing a U.S. soldier during a clash in Afghanistan in 2002, when he was 15.

Rights groups say Khadr should be repatriated to Canada, an idea that Prime Minister Stephen Harper rejects on the grounds that the man faces serious charges.

"At some point in the course of Omar Khadr's detention the Canadian government developed the suspicion he was being tortured," said William Kuebler, Khadr's U.S. lawyer.

"Yet it has not acted to obtain his release from Guantanamo Bay and protect his rights, unlike every other Western country that has had its nationals detained in Guantanamo Bay," he told CTV television.

Other countries on the watch list include Syria, China, Iran, Afghanistan, Mexico and Saudi Arabia.

"If Israel is included in the list in question, the ambassador of Israel would expect its removal," said Israeli embassy spokesman Michael Mendel.

The awareness course started after Ottawa was criticized for the way it handled the case of Canadian Maher Arar, who was deported from the United States to Syria in 2002.

Arar says he was tortured repeatedly during the year he spent in Damascus prisons. An inquiry into the case revealed that Canadian diplomats had not received any formal training into detecting whether detainees had been abused.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Rob Wilson)
Hmm, interesting article but where was I? Oh yes, I remember. The article is being overwritten by this:
By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA, Jan 19 (Reuters) - Canada's foreign ministry, responding to pressure from close allies, said on Saturday it would remove the United States and Israel from a watch list of countries where prisoners risk being tortured.

Both nations expressed unhappiness after it emerged that they had been listed in a document that formed part of a training course manual on torture awareness given to Canadian diplomats.

Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier said he regretted the embarrassment caused by the public disclosure of the manual, which also classified some U.S. interrogation techniques as torture.

"It contains a list that wrongly includes some of our closest allies. I have directed that the manual be reviewed and rewritten," Bernier said in a statement.

"The manual is neither a policy document nor a statement of policy. As such, it does not convey the government's views or positions."

The document -- made available to Reuters and other media outlets -- embarrassed the minority Conservative government, which is a staunch ally of both the United States and Israel.

U.S. ambassador David Wilkins said the listing was absurd while the Israeli envoy said he wanted his country removed.

Asked why the two countries had been put on the list, a spokesman for Bernier said: "The training manual purposely raised public issues to stimulate discussion and debate in the classroom."

The government mistakenly gave the document to Amnesty International Canada as part of a court case the rights organization has launched against Ottawa over the treatment of detainees in Afghanistan.

No one from Amnesty was immediately available for comment.

Under "definition of torture" the document lists U.S. interrogation techniques such as forced nudity, isolation, sleep deprivation and blindfolding prisoners.

It also mentions the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, where a Canadian man is being held.

The man, Omar Khadr, has been in Guantanamo Bay for five years. He is accused of killing a U.S. soldier during a clash in Afghanistan in 2002, when he was 15.

Other countries on the watch list include Syria, China, Iran, Afghanistan, Mexico and Saudi Arabia.

The foreign ministry launched the torture awareness course after Ottawa was rapped for the way it handled the case of Canadian engineer Maher Arar, who was deported from the United States to Syria in 2002.

Arar says he was tortured repeatedly during the year he spent in Damascus prisons. An official inquiry into the affair showed Canadian diplomats had not been trained to detect whether detainees might have been abused.

(Editing by Vicki Allen)
See the overlaps in the articles that were both written by the same chap? Not edited by the same chap though.

There's plenty in both to make you laugh or cry or do both at the same time. I particularly like the one where America and Israel are claimed not to torture people. Funny huh?

But I got it wrong in my headline. I assumed that because two days ago Canada had put Israel and America on its torture watchlist and then two days later, removed them, that meant that two days of Canadian pressure had persuaded Israel and America to stop the torture. How wrong I was. It turns out that the great and little satans persuaded Canada to stop telling the truth about the gruesome practices of their closest allies against adult and child prisoners alike.

So that's ok then, back business as usual.

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