Afghanistan Public Interest Investigation

On February 9, 2007, the Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC) launched a public interest investigation into allegations involving military police personnel serving at the Joint Task Force Afghanistan base at Kandahar Airfield (KAF) in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan. This decision related to a formal complaint received by the Commission on January 29, 2007. The complainant cited evidence of possible abuse of individuals apprehended by members of the Canadian Forces (CF) in April 2006 in the Kandahar Region of Afghanistan, which the military police are alleged to have not investigated, nor provided appropriate medical care.

Subsequent to receipt of the complaint, the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (CFNIS) of the military police instituted a criminal/service offence investigation. The Commission's investigation proceeded in parallel on the basis of the protocol below, which was agreed to at the outset between the CFNIS and the Commission. In the course of its investigation of this complaint, the Commission reviewed and analyzed some 5,500 pages of documentary evidence and conducted interviews with 34 witnesses.

The Commission completed its interim report on December 31, 2008. Following receipt and consideration of the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal (CFPM)’s notice of action responding to the Commission’s interim report, the Commission issued its final report on April 23, 2009. After subsequent negotiations with officials, some Government-requested redactions to the report were lifted and a less redacted version was released on November 3, 2009.

As a result of its investigation, the Commission determined that the three Afghan detainees in question were well-treated by the CF military police at KAF: the detainees’ personal effects were properly handled and inventoried and the detainees were afforded prompt and appropriate medical treatment. However, the Commission also concluded that, contrary to the CFPM’s technical direction and the expectations of the chain of command, the military police responsible for handling the detainees at KAF pending their transfer to the Afghan police failed to conduct any investigation into the causes of the injuries to one of the detainees.

The Commission found that there was no intention to cover-up the detainee’s injuries. Rather, the military police succumbed to pressure from the chain of command for maximum haste in the transfer of Afghan detainees generally. This haste also resulted in important detainee-transfer procedures, such as intelligence questioning and certain prescribed identification procedures, not being completed in respect of all of the detainees prior to their transfer.

The Commission recommended that consideration be given to means of further enhancing the independence of the military police and their capacity to provide professional policing services to the CF.

The Commission’s recommendation was accepted by the CFPM who advised in his April 3, 2009 notice of action on the Commission’s interim report that he had made proposals to the senior CF leadership for reforms to the MP command and control structure aimed at enhancing MP independence. A new MP command and control structure was subsequently put in place by the Chief of the Defence Staff. Effective April 1, 2011, all MPs directly involved in policing are under the full command of the CFPM, although MPs deployed overseas will be transferred to the command of the operational chain of command in respect of non-policing duties. On April 11, 2011, the Commission issued an addendum to its final report advising of this development.

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