21 February 2007

Let's get our torture rules straight

Two stories in this morning's Globe illustrate our inconsistency in turning foreign nationals over to suspect authorities.

The first concerned a banker named Gao Shan who fled China after allegedly embezzling $150-million and recently turned up in Vancouver. Needless to say, the Chinese want him back. His case is reminiscent of that of Lai Changxing, a Chinese national accused of masterminding a $10-billion smuggling ring who has managed to remain in Canada since 1999 because of our fears he will be mistreated if we return him.

The other story related to Amnesty International and the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association's charge that our military's practice of turning Afghan detainees over to Afghan security forces, who are notorious for their use of torture, violates international law and the Charter of Rights. In the past, we have also turned captured Afghans over to the Americans, who are also accused of abusing prisoners.

Personally, I see no reason why we should place the dignity of Chinese bankers above that of Afghan insurgents. The humanity of each should receive profound and equal respect. I therefore wish Amnesty and the BCCLA success in protecting the rights of Afghan prisoners.

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