Mr. Speaker, in responding to the hon. member's question, it would be useful to begin by recalling the purpose of Canada's engagement in Afghanistan. We are there contributing to a UN-sanctioned, NATO-led mission to help Afghanistan rebuild its society, institutions and economy.
Sixty countries in the international community helped developed a plan for Afghanistan. Called the Afghanistan Compact, it belongs to the government of Afghanistan. There are 37 countries on the ground that are implementing the plan at the request of the Afghanistan government.
Canada is there to help provide a secure environment in which development and democracy can flourish and to help restore hope to the Afghan people.
As Canadian Forces help provide security, inevitably they will detain individuals suspected of engaging in insurgent, criminal or terrorist activities. These individuals are transferred to Afghan authorities under the December 2005 arrangement negotiated by the previous Liberal government. This includes a commitment to treat detainees humanely.
Despite being in Afghanistan since 2002, and despite having received four out of five Afghanistan reports, the previous Liberal government did absolutely nothing to develop a policy for detainees until one month before they were fired by Canadians.
It will be our government that will improve this arrangement. In February, Canada strengthened its partnership with the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, a body designated under the Afghan constitution to monitor human rights in Afghanistan.
This enhancement, which the Liberals did not do, came through an exchange of letters. These letters allow Canada to notify the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission of transfers, and the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission to inform Canada if it learns of detainee mistreatment by Canada, and also the Afghan authorities.
The choice of the human rights commission is consistent with Canada's efforts to reinforce Afghanistan's sovereignty, strengthen governance and improve the rule of law. Moreover, this arrangement helps support indigenous institution building, something that Canada strongly supports.
Canadian representatives have worked with Afghan authorities to ensure that the human rights commission obtains access to facilities where detainees transferred by Canadian Forces are held. In addition, Canada is exploring ways of providing further support to the human rights commission, including capacity building and logistical and technical assistance where appropriate, to help the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission fulfill its important role.
For example, Canada has been deeply engaged in assisting the democratically elected government of Afghanistan to build its own justice, policing and correctional systems since 2002. Let us remember that this is a country that has had 30 years of tyranny.
Currently this includes mentoring, training and capacity building for the Afghan national police and the Afghan prison system. Officials in our Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, as well as the RCMP and Correctional Service Canada, are also stationed in Kandahar to help provide such support.
The allegations that have been made about the treatment of detainees in Afghanistan are taken very seriously by the Government of Canada. Let us remember that these are allegations that are made by Taliban alleged terrorist detainees.