You are on page 1of 4

Skip to content Skip to Institutional Links - Military News for Canadians


Français Home Contact Us Help Search

Canada's Approach Backgrounder
Canadian Forces Release Statistics on Afghanistan Detainees
Basic Services
Humanitarian Aid Canada is participating in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in
Border Afghanistan with 47 other nations at the request of the democratically elected
National Institutions
government. Our ultimate aim is to leave Afghanistan to Afghans, a viable country that is
better governed, more peaceful and more secure.
Signature and Since the beginning of our military operations in Afghanistan in October 2001, the
Development Projects Government of Canada has been committed to ensuring that individuals detained by the
Canadian Forces Canadian Forces (CF) are handled and transferred or released in accordance with our
Operations obligations under international law.  Respect for the rule of law is an essential aspect of 
Policing Operations
Canadian Forces operations. Members of the Canadian Forces and their civilian
counterparts have consistently demonstrated tremendous professionalism in their
Stories from the Field
respective roles regarding detainees.
Canada's Progress
Canada's processes for the transfer of detainees to Afghan authorities have evolved
Benchmarks over the years of our engagement in Afghanistan. Key to our efforts since May 2007 is a
Canada's Embassy
post-transfer monitoring program, a Diplomatic Contingency Plan, and a robust capacity
building program for the Afghan justice and corrections sectors. The Diplomatic
Ambassador Contingency Plan is triggered in the event allegations of abuse of a Canadian-transferred
Focus on Kandahar detainee are received from any source, including during interviews with transferred
detainees. In the event of an allegation, Canada notifies the International Committee of
Canada's the Red Cross (ICRC), the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC),
Representative and Afghan authorities, as appropriate. Canadian officials follow up on the investigations.
Reconstruction Team Background

Media Centre After more than three decades of civil conflict, the capacity of the Afghan justice and
correctional system was seriously eroded. Canada and our allies understood the need to
Links support law and order in Afghanistan by building the capacity of the police, judicial and
corrections sectors through targeted capacity-building efforts.

We continue to work with and train the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) to
increase the Afghan government’s capacity to handle detainees appropriately. Canada
has made significant investments to help build capacity in rule of law functions, including
police, judicial and correctional services. Canada also continues to fund and work closely
with independent organizations, including the AIHRC, to strengthen their abilities to
monitor, investigate, report and act on issues involving the treatment of detainees.

In the early stages of Canada’s engagement in Afghanistan, the Canadian Forces

transferred Afghan detainees to U.S. authorities and, while on joint operations supporting
capacity building of the ANSF, to Afghan authorities. Since the December 2005 Canada-
Afghanistan Arrangement for the Transfer of Detainees was signed, all Canadian Forces
detainees have been transferred to Afghan authorities pursuant to specific modalities set
out therein. The Government of Afghanistan has primary responsibility for ensuring that
the rights of those transferred into its custody are respected.

Recognition of the Afghan government’s sovereign responsibility for all issues related to
the rule of law and justice in its territory underpins the formal arrangement of 18
December 2005. This established procedures for the transfer of detainees to Afghan
authorities. Canada does not operate permanent detention facilities in Afghanistan.

In addition to setting the framework for transfers, this arrangement reinforced the
commitments of both parties to treat detainees humanely and in accordance with the
standards of the Third Geneva Convention. This arrangement also specifically prohibits
the application of the death penalty to any Canadian-transferred detainee.

On 3 May 2007, Canada signed a Supplementary Arrangement which clarified Canada’s

expectations and the Government of Afghanistan’s responsibilities. Importantly, this
supplementary arrangement provides Canadian officials with unrestricted and private
access to Canadian transferred detainees, and commits Afghan authorities to notify us
when a detainee is transferred, sentenced or released, or his status changes in any way.
Canada retains the right to refuse transfer to a third party. In the case of allegations of
mistreatment, the Afghan Government committed through this Arrangement to
investigate and, when appropriate, bring to justice suspected offenders in accordance
with Afghan law and applicable international legal standards.

Civilian Government of Canada officials monitor the treatment of Canadian-transferred

detainees in Afghan detention facilities up to the point where detainees are sentenced
by Afghan authorities, or are released from custody.

Detention Procedures Page 1 / 4
Accessed 050150UTC Feb 11
Detainees are individuals captured by
- Military the Canadian
News Forces in the course of military
for Canadians
operations who pose a threat to Canadians, Allies or Afghans – individuals who have
either attacked or killed Canadian soldiers and officials, Afghan citizens or our
international partners, or in respect of whom there is credible information to suggest that
they present a threat.

In accordance with their obligations under international humanitarian law, the Canadian
Forces (CF) treats all detainees humanely; as a matter of policy, this includes the
standards of protection afforded by the Third Geneva Conventions. Protections include
providing detainees with food, shelter and necessary medical attention. Specific training
is provided to Canadian Forces members involved in the handling and transfer of

When a decision is made to hold a detainee, that individual, whether injured or not, is
brought to the Role 3 Multinational Medical Unit (MMU) for medical assessment. Non-
injured detainees may then be handed over to the temporary detention centre on the
Canadian base in Kandahar, while the injured receive necessary treatment. Detainees in
Canadian custody are afforded the same medical treatment as CF members and either
remain at the MMU for continuous care or are moved to the detention centre with visits
to the MMU when necessary.

Detainees remain under treatment in the MMU at Kandahar Air Field until their discharge,
and while in detention are provided access to follow-up treatment if required.

Injured detainees who are subject to transfer are held in CF custody until their medical
condition permits transfer to Afghan authorities.

Conditions for transfer

The decision to continue to detain, transfer or release a detainee is an operational one

that takes into consideration information from a number of Canadian, Afghan and
international sources.  The Canadian Task Force Commander is the sole authority who 
can make the determination of whether a detainee will be transferred or released by the
Canadian Forces. His decision to transfer is premised on his confidence that there are no
substantial grounds for believing that there exists a real risk that the detainee would be
in danger of being subjected to torture or other forms of mistreatment at the hands of
Afghan authorities.

In accordance with ISAF guidelines, the Canadian Commander makes every effort to hold
detainees no longer than 96 hours, during which time the CF reviews all available
information and assesses whether further detention, transfer or release is the
appropriate course of action.

Operational decisions to hold detainees longer than ISAF guidelines can and do occur for
a variety of reasons from medical to administrative to security. This decision is made by
the Commander of Canadian Expeditionary Forces Command (CEFCOM) based on a
recommendation from the Commander in Theatre and takes into consideration the facts
on the ground and input from other government departments, including Correctional
Service of Canada (CSC) and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Canada’s detainee monitoring process

The December 2005 and May 2007 Arrangements clearly outline the Canadian and Afghan
governments’ roles and responsibilities with regard to the transfer and monitoring of
Canadian-transferred detainees to Afghan authorities. The 2007 Supplementary
Arrangement ensures unrestricted and private access to Canadian-transferred detainees.
To track and monitor detainees once they have been transferred, the Arrangement limits
the number of facilities where Canadian-transferred detainees can be held. The 2007
Arrangement also commits the Government of Afghanistan to investigate allegations of
abuse and inform the Government of Canada, the AIHRC and the ICRC of the steps it is

Civilian Government of Canada officials conduct post-transfer monitoring visits to assess

the conditions of detention and treatment of Canadian-transferred detainees held in
Afghan facilities.

Canada has a robust detainee monitoring regime, with regular, unannounced visits at a
limited number of designated detention facilities in Kandahar and Kabul at varying times.
However, the vast majority of detainees transferred by Canada remain in Kandahar and
are held at either the National Directorate of Security (NDS) detention facility or the
Ministry of Justice-run Sarpoza prison.

Since May 2007, when monitoring began, Canadian officials have conducted more than
260 visits to detention facilities, conducting more than 265 interviews with
detainees. (Current as of September 2010.)

The Afghan Facilities to which Canadian-Transferred detainees can be transferred:

l NDS detention facility, Kandahar

l Sarposa Central Prison, Kandahar, (Ministry of Justice)

l NDS detention faciliy, Department Number 17, Kabul

l Pol-e-Charki Prison, Kabul (Ministry of Justice)

l Juvenile Rehabilitation Centre, Kandahar (Ministry of Justice) Page 2 / 4
Accessed 050150UTC Feb 11
l Counter Narcotics Justice Centre (CNJC), Kabul  (Ministry of Justice) - Military News for Canadians
Responding in the event of an allegation

Should allegations of abuse arise during interviews with Canadian-transferred detainees,

the Diplomatic Contingency Plan is activated, which includes the notification of the
Afghan authorities, the ICRC and AIHRC as well as senior Canadian officials from across
government. It requires situation-dependent follow-up actions, including an investigation
by the Afghan government, where appropriate, and may include more frequent follow-up
visits or the suspension of transfers.

Suspension and resumption of transfer

In the event of an allegation of mistreatment of a Canadian-transferred detainee, or if

Canada has any concerns that Afghan authorities are not abiding by the Arrangements,
the Canadian Forces Task Force Commander may decide to pause or suspend transfers.

Since May 2007, detainee transfers have been suspended on one occasion (Nov 07 –
Feb 08) and have been temporarily paused by the Canadian Commander of Task Force
Kandahar on three separate occasions in 2009.

Individuals detained by the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan since 2001

Since the beginning of the Afghanistan mission in 2001, there has been a need to
protect data related to the number of persons detained by the CF based on the need to
maintain a high level of security for military operations in Theatre, to ensure that the
lives of civilians, allies and Canadian Forces personnel in Afghanistan are not put at risk
by the release of information of an operational security (OPSEC) nature. OPSEC is
essential to maintain security and freedom of action by denying the enemy any
information that would indicate the disposition, capabilities and intentions of the
Canadian and allied forces, which could endanger the lives of CF personnel, allies and

A recent military review has led the CF to conclude that historical statistics pertaining to
the number of individuals detained by the CF in Afghanistan no longer pose an immediate
threat to current or recent operations because they do not indicate a particular pattern
that the enemy could use against future operations.

Although some types of Afghanistan detainee-related information remain OPSEC in

nature, basic statistical information such as number of persons detained, released,
transferred and deceased, does not pose OPSEC concerns. Additionally, the CF has
determined that releasing cumulative detainee-related statistics would not pose a threat
to Canadians or our allies in the field. In light of these considerations, and in the interest
of accuracy and transparency, historical detainee data will now be released on an annual
basis – once per calendar year after being protected by the CF for a period of 12 months.

Individuals detained by the CF since 2001


In 2001 there were no individuals detained by the Canadian Forces.


In 2002, the CF detained 17 individuals. 5 were released by the CF, while 12 were


In 2003, the CF detained four (4) individuals. All were released by the CF.


In 2004, the CF detained 39 individuals. 18 were released by the CF, while 21 were


In 2005, the CF detained eight (8) individuals. One (1) was released by the CF, while
seven (7) were transferred.


In 2006, the CF detained 142 individuals. 11 were released by the CF, while 129 were
transferred. Two (2) individuals died of wounds as a result of injuries suffered on the
battlefield. Both individuals passed away at the Role 3 hospital while receiving medical


In 2007, the CF detained 142 individuals. 43 were released by the CF, while 96 were
transferred. Three (3) individuals were detained near the close of 2007, but remained in
CF custody until 2008. These individuals are counted as “detained” in 2007 and are
reflected in the 2008 statistics.


In 2008, the CF detained 87 individuals. Three (3) individuals detained in 2007 remained
in custody into 2008, bringing the total of detained individuals in 2008 to 90. Of the 90,
71 were released by the CF, while 18 were transferred. One (1) individual was detained
near the close of 2008 but remained in CF custody until 2009. This individual is counted
as “detained” in 2008 and is reflected in the 2009 statistics. Page 3 / 4
Accessed 050150UTC Feb 11
2009 - Military News for Canadians
In 2009, the CF detained 225 individuals. One (1) individual detained in 2008 remained in
custody into 2009, bringing the total of detained individuals in 2009 to 226. Of the 226,
126 were released by the CF, while 92 were transferred. One (1) individual died of
wounds as a result of injuries suffered on the battlefield. The individual passed away at
the Role 3 hospital while receiving medical care. Seven (7) individuals were detained near
the close of 2009 but remained in CF custody until 2010. These individuals are counted
as “detained” in 2009 and will be reflected in the 2010 statistics.

Date Modified: 2011-02-04 Important Notices

Top of Page Page 4 / 4
Accessed 050150UTC Feb 11

You might also like