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Two Canadian law professors and human rights activists have written to the International Criminal Court (ICC), asking it to investigate "possible war crimes" by top Canadian defence officials. Michael Byers of the University of British Columbia and William Schabas, now at the National University of Ireland, sent a letter to ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo accusing Canadian Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor and Chief of Canada's Defence Staff Gen. Rick Hillier of transferring detainees to Afghan custody despite a strong possibility that they would be tortured. In response to criticism about the transfers, including opposition calls for his resignation, O'Connor Wednesday announced the start of a new arrangement between Canada and Afghanistan that will allow Canadian officials to inspect Afghan prisoners after they had been transferred to Afghan custody to make sure that they have not subjected to torture; Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Thursday that the new agreement would soon be "formalized."

In February the Canadian government ordered an official inquiry into reported detainee abuse by Canadian troops in Afghanistan. The probe began following a civilian complaint filed by University of Ottawa law professor Amir Attaran, whose research uncovered a pattern of suspicious injuries on three detainees captured last April and later released. In 2005, Hillier signed the Canada-Afghanistan Detainee Agreement authorizing the transfers; Attaran said the agreement did not give Canada the power to inspect detainees after their transfers, thus allowing broad latitude for torture to occur.


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