Canadian diplomat and whistleblower Richard Colvin files complaint against Harper government

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Whistle-blower Richard Colvin is being targeted by the Canadian government with reprisals for his report to Parliament in November in which he presented evidence the Harper government was complicit in torturing Afghan detainees — many of whom were likely innocent of any crime.

Coupled with the Government's public attacks on Mr. Colvin and his testimony before the Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan (the "Committee"), our client is left with the reasonable belief that the denial of further legal indemnification is a reprisal for his participation before the Committee and the Commission.

In a letter to the Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC), Colvin's Toronto lawyer Owen Rees expresses concern over the government's complete failure to make any response — either to Colvin or to the MPCC. The government stopped paying Colvin's legal fees in November after his damning testimony before the House of Commons's special committee on Afghanistan.

The special committee had called Colvin to testify in their ongoing into what Canadian Forces knew, or should have known, about the fate of detainees turned over to Afghan authorities due to their responsibilities to the Geneva Convention. Colvin testified he repeatedly warned officials regarding the treatment of prisoners by Afghan authorities, and presented evidence the government was aware of circumstances.

This latest revelation comes as the Canadian Parliament has been prorogued for three months, until after the Vancouver Olympics, by the minority Harper government, with some members of the opposition parties pointing to Colvin's testimony and the whole Afghan detainee issue as the reason to dismiss the legislature. His testimony was publicly attacked by members of government, in particular by Defense Minister Peter MacKay.

As a federal civil servant summoned by Parliament regarding his official work Colvin is entitled to legal representation. The government agreed his earlier government-employed lawyer could not fairly represent both Colvin and the government, but has refused to provide funding for any other legal representation despite the ongoing MPCC investigation. The MPCC's own investigation into detainee transfers is awaiting the government's appointment of a new MPCC Commissioner.

Colvin continues to hold his position as head of intelligence at the Canadian Embassy in Washington.