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Monday, March 19, 2007 

O'Connor Apologizes For Misleading The House Of Commons

Canada's Tory Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor has apologized for telling the House of Commons that the Red Cross would share information with Ottawa about alleged abuses of detainees after Canadian troops handed them over to Afghan authorities.

O'Connor told MPs on Monday that his earlier comment was not accurate, adding that he regretted any confusion that may have resulted.

"I fully and without reservation apologize to the House for providing inaccurate information for members. I take full responsibility and do so without hesitations. [...] The answers I gave were provided in good faith. I take full responsibility and do so without hesitation."
Defence Minister, Hon. Gordon O'Connor

O'Connor had earlier said that the International Committee of the Red Cross was monitoring the welfare of detainees the Canadians have turned over the Afghan authorities, who are known to use torture during interrogations. He also said Red Cross officials would report any human-rights violations to Canadians.

The Red Cross, however, has said that is not true. While it does conduct spot inspections of detention facilities, it says it reports its findings only to the country that is holding the detainees.

O'Connor, who recently met with the head of the international Red Cross, acknowledged he made a mistake.

Mr. O’Connor also tabled letters correcting information the minister and DND officials have provided to the House of Commons.

Globe & Mail

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