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Governmnent now concedes that Canadian officials reported Afghan torture allegations

Governmnent now concedes that Canadian officials reported Afghan torture allegations

Canada's Conservative government conceded Monday that it has received reports from Canadian officials about alleged torture of prisoners in Afghan jails.
After a week of denying knowledge of any specific claims of abuse, Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day revealed that Corrections Canada officers in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar had heard at least two first-hand allegations of torture.
"Yes, they have actually talked to detainees about the possibility if they were tortured or not," Day said in response to a reporter's question.
"They actually had a couple of incidents where detainees said they were."
Asked whether the prisoners in question had earlier been handed over to Afghan authorities by Canadian troops, Day replied: "I don't have that precise information, but we'll look into it and we'll get back to you."
The Canadian government has tried to deflect criticism that its agreement to hand over suspected Taliban prisoners to Afghan authorities is flawed.
Under intense questioning last week, Day did not mention anything about Canadian officials in Afghanistan receiving reports about mistreatment of prisoners in Afghan government custody. On Monday, he did not reveal when he first learned that the Corrections Canada officers had received such reports.
Corrections Canada has had two officers in Kandahar since early February, instructing Afghan prison guards.
Day said the officers had no evidence to back up the abuse claims, but did not say if an investigation had been conducted.
Day has long insisted that the allegations of abuse were lies made up by captured insurgents, despite the fact that no probe has been completed.
Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper reported last week that dozens of detainees said they had been choked, starved and given electric shocks by Afghan officials after they were handed over by Canadian forces.
Canada signed an agreement with Afghanistan in 2005 that committed Canadian soldiers to hand over captured Taliban prisoners to local authorities.
Canadians have become increasingly concerned about the mission in Afghanistan because of a mounting death toll and reports that their troops might be an accomplice to torture.
Fifty-four Canadian soldiers and one diplomat have been killed in Afghanistan. Opposition lawmakers have been pushing for a troop withdrawal.
Some 2,500 Canadian soldiers are fighting alongside Afghan, American and other NATO forces trying to weed out Taliban fighters in the most violent areas in the south.