Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sandra Buckler: Miss Communication

The Geneva Conventions, to which Canada has subscribed, are not ambiguous. Whatever Sandra Buckler might say about Canadian government "policy" is irrelevant in the light of Articles 10 and 12 of the Third Geneva conventions which are binding. I quote from Aricle 12:

"Prisoners of war are in the hands of the enemy Power, but not of the individuals or military units who have captured them. Irrespective of the individual responsibilities that may exist, the Detaining Power is responsible for the treatment given them. Prisoners of war may only be transferred by the Detaining Power to a Power which is a party to the Convention [and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is not] and after the Detaining Power has satisfied itself of the willingness and ability of such transferee Power to apply the Convention. When prisoners of war are transferred under such circumstances, responsibility for the application of the Convention rests on the Power accepting them while they are in its custody. Nevertheless, if that Power fails to carry out the provisions of the Convention in any important respect, the Power by whom the prisoners of war were transferred shall, upon being notified by the Protecting Power, take effective measures to correct the situation or shall request the return of the prisoners of war. Such requests must be complied with."

The High Contracting Power is the Government of Canada, not the Canadian Armed Forces. Nevertheless, as was shown at Nuremburg, military officers who contravene the conventions are themselves liable to prosecution for War Crimes. Thus, the November 5, 2007 halt to Canadian transfers of prisoners to Afghanistan "authorities" may have much less to do with "operational" judgement, than with members of the Canadian Armed Forces refusing to collude in War Crimes.